NAIAS – Ford Digital Summit

I’m attending the North American International Auto Show as a guest of Ford Motor Company. Over the next few days I’ll be writing about the Digital Summit they are holding over the next two days as well as thoughts about how the company [and other auto makers] are using social communications channels to attract and retain loyal owners.

Disclosure: I am a guest of Ford Motor Company, which has paid for my airfare, hotel and hospitality during my stay in Detroit for the NAIAS and digital summit. They have, however, not asked that I write about it, nor have they asked that I write favourably about them in return for their hospitality and have not asked for editorial pre-sight of what I write.

En route to Detroit for the North American International Auto Show as a guest of Ford Motor Company
En route to Detroit for the North American International Auto Show as a guest of Ford Motor Company

The central console in the 2014 Ford Fusion is great for geeks like me. It tells you about what mode the car is in [electric or traditional gas], as well as things normal things you’d expect from a modern vehicle control centre. When I first saw a picture of the car I was drawn to the Aston Martin-esque front grille. The driver suggested it might also inspire memories of Jaguars of old – I’ll have to have another look before I can tell you whether I agree.

A panel in the 2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid dashboard is heaven for geeks like me!
A panel in the 2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid dashboard is heaven for geeks like me!

The strangest thing about hybrid/EVs for me, is the lack of motor noise. The best thing? Gas consumption – our host claimed that having driven back and forth between Detroit airport and our hotel [the Westin] he topped-off the tank – 5 and a half liters [about half a tank]. If reflective of average use then they are impressive numbers.

Update: Monday January 14th [6.30 am]

Last night I visited The Henry Ford Museum for the first sessions of Ford’s Digital Summit. If you’ve not visited the museum I’d recommend it. While it boasts the name of the company’s founder it’s not all Ford vehicles – containing a history of technology since the industrial revolution. The museum has three presidential limousines – Eisenhower, Reagan and the car in which John F. Kennedy was shot in while visiting Dallas on 22 November 1963 and modified by the United States’ 36th President… Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Dearborn-20130113-02458

There’s also the bus that Rosa Parks famously stood up for her civil rights in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. You can sit in the seat Rosa refused to give up.

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The evening also contained a session discussing design and innovation that looked at how a company like Ford stays ahead of the design curve. The company has a design team of more than 100 from around 27 countries and has scenarios for 1, 3, 5, 10 and 15 years ahead, which its teams develop vehicle designs for. I also had the pleasure of sitting next to one of the company’s senior communications team [from their digital agency roster] and discuss everything from the future of corporate communications, the online/offline communications mix and the importance of targeting.

Update January 14th – 11pm

I’ll write more about some of the things I’ve seen and talked about today soon, but I wanted to share an interview I did with Scott Monty, Global Head of Social Media at Ford Motor Company. I spoke with him earlier this evening to find out what social media means to the company. I started by asking him how Ford got in to using social media.

Scott Monty Ford [edited]

Ford just announced a new concept truck – The Atlas.

Photo on 2013-01-15 at 8.29 AM

Ford Atlas

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