Google and Ford have announced a first-of-its-kind partnership “that promises to transform both Ford and the auto industry,” Google Cloud CEO, Thomas Kurian, told reporters during a virtual press conference on Monday.
“We both believe that the relationship between Google and Ford will establish an innovation powerhouse,” David McClelland, Ford vice president strategy and partnerships, added. “It will accelerate the modernization of our business and Ford, and most importantly, it will let us exceed our customers expectations.”
Under the terms of the six-year partnership, Ford has named Google as its preferred cloud provider and, beginning in 2023, millions of Ford and Lincoln vehicles will operate using Android Auto (just as we saw in the Polestar 2) with Google apps, such as Assistant and Maps, embedded into the infotainment system. But don’t worry iPhone owners, Ford will continue to support Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa functionality moving forward.
The two companies also plan to establish a collaborative workgroup, dubbed Team Upshift, that will work to “push the boundaries of modernization, unlocking personalized customer experiences, and driving disruptive data driven opportunities. For example, we’ll create new retail experiences for customers when buying a vehicle,” McClelland said.
“There are a number of different applications, including modernizing product development, improving manufacturing and supply chain management, using computer vision, AI for employee training inspection of equipment on the assembly line,” Kurian explained. “We’re also working together to create new business models for data — real time notices to consumers on maintenance requests or trading alerts.”
Team Upshift will work with third party app makers to develop additional driver-facing and infotainment services for Ford’s Android-powered vehicles. “We also have the mechanism to get data from the cars,” McClelland explained. “It can also go into the analytic system in the cloud and provide capabilities — for example, around helping the consumer detect when to bring their car in for service warranties.” However, McClelland clarified that no personal data collected from drivers will be made available to third-party devs.
“Once you have a platform that lets you get data and analyze it,” he continued. “There’s lots of very simple but transformative experiences that you can offer drivers: for example, assisting them when they need to schedule a service appointment with the dealer or helping them shop for cars better by personalizing the shopping experiences.”