Ford currently offers a feature called passive lock and entry on a variety of Ford and Lincoln vehicles, including the Ford F-150. This feature is what allows the vehicle to automatically unlock the doors when the owner grabs the door handle. Originally, the feature allowed owners to unlock the vehicle by grabbing any of the four exterior doors of an F-150 SuperCrew pickup, but Ford changed that a few years ago, and now it only works on the front doors.
Until now, it was unclear why Ford made that change. But during a recent Goldman Sachs investor call, COO Hau Thai-Tang brought it up and used it as an example of how the automaker is leveraging connected vehicle data. After analyzing that data, it quickly became apparent that very few F-150 SuperCrew owners were actually using the feature to unlock the vehicle via the two rear doors.
“Now that we have connected data, we can actually monitor how frequently the customers actually enter the vehicle through which door,” Thai-Tang said. “And you can see across our product lineup here with Aviator, Explorer, Nautilus, Edge, Ranger – 80 plus, 90 percent of the time, it’s only being used in the driver’s door, and very and frequently is being used in the other doors, especially in the second row. So as part of our go-to-markets, on the new F-150, we eliminated this feature from the second row of the crew cabs.”
It may sound like a small and insignificant change, but Thai-Tang noted that this move has saved Ford a whopping $6.5 million annually in material costs. Thai-Tang also said that this is why Ford has moved to eliminate paddle shifters and adjustable pedals from a variety of its 2021 models, as very few owners actually use them, connected data has shown.