Ford Automotive

I think I'll pass on Ford's new mobility app


By Dom Burch, managing director

January 12, 2016 | 4 min read

The smallest things make my engine over heat. I know they shouldn't, but there you go.


Ford has decided it needs to make more money. At least that's my reading of the announcement yesterday in Detroit.

As reported in The Drum, the motor company plans to launch a new mobility app called Ford Pass.

The “Ford Smart Mobility” programme will take the company to the next level in mobility, connectivity and analytics, apparently.

Reading between the lines of its announcement, it becomes clear what's really going on here.

"Great companies have better relationships with their customers and also better revenues and stock prices... We want to revolutionise the customer experience in the automotive industry," said Ford chief executive Mark Fields at the Detroit motor show.

In other words, selling a lump of metal with wheels on is no longer where the money is these days.

According to Forbes, FordPass, which is open for membership for non-Ford vehicle owners as well (phew!), aims to do for car owners what iTunes did for music lovers.

Really? What does that even mean?

Being able to get a discount at McDonald's or 7-Eleven, opening the car door with the Ford app, or checking oil levels are all well and good. But when I was able to digitise my entire CD collection over night onto my iPod, that was not only revolutionary, but it was also hugely convenient and pretty cool to boot.

It all reminds me a bit of when BP decided it was going to refer to itself as Beyond Petroleum. It spelled disaster, literally for them, after they spilled millions of barrels of crude across the Gulf of Mexico.

Stating your desire as a brand to be something is an awful long way from actually reaching that stated destination, hence anyone taking you seriously.

I still want to be a pop star and I quite like the idea of coming on for Reading to score the winning goal in the next round of the FA Cup. It ain't gonna happen Dominic, get over it.

As far as I can gather Ford hopes to increase its European market share to 6 per cent by 2020.

So by those calculations even if you convinced yourself for a minute that all of its own customers jumped on board, you're still only talking about a fraction of all drivers, roughly one in twenty cars on the road.

The idea that non Ford drivers will want a Ford Mobility app too just doesn't make any sense.

Mashable's interpretation is far more kind, and perhaps more insightful than mine, stating that Ford's FordPass app is the beginning of the end of car ownership.

Nick Jaynes encourages us to "look at it in the context of the bigger picture".

He adds: "This is the first step of Ford moving itself from the role of simply selling you a car and into a brand new position: becoming the helpful, insightful brand that helps you get where you want to go, whether it's behind the wheel of a Ford or on public transport."

I accept more and more people are waking up and realising that paying £30-40k for a shiny vehicle that spends 80 per cent of its life sat completely stationary outside your house is daft.

Therefore Ford, and every other car manufacturer, is likely to sell far fewer cars in the future.

It need more income streams, no doubt, I'm just not convinced Ford's mobility app will get past first gear.

Follow Dom on Twitter @domburch

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