Imagine cars as "cool" as an Apple iPad or iPhone where you play games that generate real cash rewards or that can connect you with that hot-looking person driving next to you. That is the future I saw at the 2013 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Almost every manufacturer at this show was launching new cars equipped with electrification technologies that will turn driving into a digital engagement delivering value by saving money at the pump, reducing tail pipe emissions and potentially hooking you up with your future significant other.
Farmville for a dashboard?
Unlike past car shows, the biggest trend at the NAIAS wasn't about horsepower. It was about morphing the dashboard into a game center experience. Think Farmville or Angry Birds next to your digital speedometer. This digital engagement will influence how safely or fuel efficiently you drive, rewarding your efforts with real money saved through lower fuel consumption and, probably some day soon, insurance rates. Or even imagine driving by your favorite retailer and having your car search for special offer sales!
Find me someplace romantic
How far could this go? Ford is now following the digital mobile world and opening their SYNC® central-console computer to third party app developers. Beyond today’s GPS map displays, this screen will offer voice-activated app searches. “The future has arrived” with enabled Ford car owners now being able to perform searches like “What are some good date ideas nearby?” through a third-party-developed app called BeCouply
Fun, fuel-efficient and green: Ford C-Max Energi Plug-in Electric Hybrid
Ford flew me up to their Dearborn headquarters to test-drive their new fleet of cars built around electrification technologies. I had a blast. Here’s a 2-minute video of my test drive of the C-MAX Energi with Ford’s Global Electric Fleet Manager Julie D'Annunzio as cameraperson. If you dig cars or digital tech, you really have to get in the driver's seat of cars like the C-MAX Energi to see how much fun these cars really are. If you are praying for technology solutions to climate change, then take some assurance in the fact that car companies like Ford are investing heavily in electrification as a solution to both pain at the pump and tail pipe emissions.
This is the last of a four-part case study on how Ford is going green. Their best practices can be used by every business to grow revenues and win customers. The first article in this case study series profiled Chairman Of The Board Bill Ford and CEO Alan Mulally on Ford’s CSR vision and how it is driving sales. The second article profiled Ford’s Go Further brand messaging tied to sustainability. The third article profiled the range of Ford’s electrification technologies.
Travel and accommodations to NAIAS in Detroit were covered by Ford. Opinions are my own.
Bill Roth is an economist and the Founder of Earth 2017 He coaches business owners and leaders on proven best practices in pricing, marketing and operations that make money and create a positive difference. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles business case studies of pioneering best practices that are proven to win customers and grow product revenues. Follow him on Twitter: @earth2017.