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“We are changing peoples mind’s. We’re being increasingly accepted by a whole new audience.” – Derrick Kuzak, Ford VP Product Development at SAE Convergence
Technology is a big part of Ford’s turnaround. That’s the message from Ford vice president of product development, Derrick Kuzak, to open the SAE Convergence conference at Cobo Center.
Kuzak says Ford was able to increase it’s revenue per vehicle by $3300 between 2008 and 2009. One reason is that people are willing to pay for technology in vehicles that makes them more productive and improves their lives.
“Part of being able to make that interesting for customer to move to higher mixes is to have a lot of interesting features on the higher series,” Kuzak told reporters after his speech.
Ford is getting more buyers purchasing higher end trims, Kuzak said, and more buyers purchasing technology based options. He says the new Sync communications system has brought a lot of people to the Ford brand.
Sync has also brought Ford criticism from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who has used Sync and Onstar as examples of technologies that can be distracting behind the wheel.
Ford has said that Sync makes driving less distracting, and says it will continue to press that point to the government.
“We’ve already reached out in the past, had some discussions,” Kuzak told WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert. “I think a big portion of this is just to really work together to understand the capabilities that are there.”
Kuzak’s speech came amid multiple reports that Ford was planning to reduce it’s stake in Mazda to three per cent. It currently stands at 11 per cent, and was once over 33 per cent.
Kuzak wouldn’t comment on that or Ford’s future relationship with Mazda. He said that they continue to work with Mazda on a number of projects, and that hasn’t changed.
“We’ve already reduced the financial relationship over the past several years. In spite of that reduction, we’ve continued to have a really strong partnership,” said Kuzak.
The Convergence conference is bringing many representatives of the technology industry to Detroit. Kuzak reaching out to them, offering to work together to develop more technologies that will make life better behind the wheel.
“We know we can do better things for our customers by partnering with the companies that provide the devices and services that they arlready know, use and trust.”