By Jeff Gilbert

DEARBORN — (WWJ) Ford has beginning sending owners and dealers an upgrade for its troubled “MyFord Touch” connectivity system.

“This upgrade is much different than just an update,” said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president for Ford Product Development. “It provides customers with a significantly improved experience.”

Owners of vehicles that have MyFord Touch and its companion system, MyLincoln Touch, will receive jump drives in the mail that will allow them to upgrade the system themselves. They can also take it to a dealer to have them do the upgrade for free.

Kuzak says the upgrade will take care of customer complaints that the system is buggy and too complicated to use.

“It is visually impactful, faster to the touch, easier to talk to,” he said. “And it has even brand new features that help keep the cars up to pace with the latest technology that consumers are buying at a record pace.”

Ford’s director of global electronics engineering Graydon Reitz says the upgrade will end the system’s particularly annoying tendency to reboot on customers, cutting off their audio and navigation systems during that time.

“The system will perform the way they expect it to perform,” he said. “Some of the customer symptoms with black screens and resets. That’s been eliminated.”

Other major changes include new maps and new graphics.

“The majority of simplification was done in the touch screen and the graphics,” said Reitz. “We were displaying a lot more information than the customer needed previously on the display screen. We simplified it to the critical information that they needed.”

Ford saw significant drops in its quality scores from both J.D. Power and Consumer Reports last year. Much of that drop was blamed on complaints about MyFord Touch.

“Even when it’s working well, it’s pretty complicated to use,” said David Champion, who heads the auto testing team at Consumer Reports, when they released their annual car ratings last fall.

“It’s poor when it works, but it’s even worse when it doesn’t work at all.”

Ford’s Derrick Kuzak says they’ve taken all of these complaints into account as they upgraded the system.

“We expect these improvements will put us back on track in the quality ratings.”

This is the first time that an automaker has sent out a software update for a significant system. Ford says it won’t be the last.

“This is all about approaching this like a consumer electronics program,” said Kuzak. “You’ll recognize this in every Apple product. When you give an update, it’s more than just an update, it’s an upgrade.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert


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