As Ford Motor Company transitions into a car and technology company, Africa won’t be left behind; Ford CEO Mark Fields says that the same connectivity and autonomy being deployed in vehicles for Europe and North America will make its way to the African continent before too long.
“We’re seeing more convergence of customer wants and needs as opposed to big divergence around the world,” the Ford CEO told South Africa’s Business Times. “Clearly there needs to be some room for tailoring cars for African markets, but when you look at connectivity needs, there are far more similarities than differences.
“People in Africa, as everywhere else, want to be sure vehicles are reliable, safe and have the latest technology, regardless of where they live.”
At the Mobile World Congress in Spain last month, Ford revealed the latest version of its SYNC infotainment system for the European market, and simultaneously announced the arrival of the FordPass mobility platform there. The FordPass mobile app, which will be available to customers and non-customers alike, will grant users remote access to SYNC Connect-equipped vehicles, and come with mobility services such as a parking locator, live chat assistance, and eventually, car rental and car sharing services. Several experiments are already underway.
“We’re seeing the growth of megacities around the world, so we will have more [urban] congestion,” Fields explained to Business Times. “We are seeing the growth of the urban middle class, which is expected to double in the next 15 years. This all raises issues around air quality, not only in terms of the environment, but also around basic health. Finally, we’re looking at the changing nature of consumer behaviour, particularly around millennials and how they are relating, getting married, buying houses and having kids, for example. They want to be connected 24/7, and they want access rather than ownership.”
The Ford chief concluded: “We are looking closely at all those trends and how they will affect our business going forward. In both of our core businesses, automotive and mobile, we have to be alert to emerging opportunities in business and society.”