Technology Upgrades Lead to Quality Downgrades for Ford
Monday, June 27, 2021 10:12 AM

The 2011 initial quality Study (IQS) report from J.D. Powers and Associates indicates that Ford has fallen 18 spots from 5th last year to 23rd this year, thanks to a high-tech control panel that was supposed to be a selling point. The survey quizzes new car owners about any repairs that need to be undertaken in the first 90 days after purchase, and also about any design flaws or aspects of the car they don’t like.

Ford’s touch-enabled MyFord panel is an 8-inch console that acts as a media center, navigation system and climate control system. MyFord also lets users connect their cell-phones to the car’s audio system via Bluetooth. But it is this very feature in Ford’s newer vehicles that has caused the automaker to plummet in ranking.

MyFord is available in the Ford Edge, Ford Explorer and selected Lincoln models. Car owners have complained that this system is difficult to use, unintuitive, confusing, and may pose a safety risk to drivers. Other qualms include accidently pressing touch-sensitive buttons and no tactile feedback from the panel. The system also includes voice recognition for hands-free control, but like most voice recognition technology it can sometimes be frustrating to use.

Dave Sargent, J.D. Power's V.P. of Global Vehicle Research said, "If it wasn't for MyFord Touch we wouldn't be talking about Ford.”

Users felt that the newer technology found in cars today are not as easy to use as previous analog controls, and involved diverting attention away from the road for extended periods in order to perform routine tasks such as adjusting air-conditioning and playing music. Going through various menu screens in the MyFord console made some owners question its safety.

Ford has said that the report provides valuable feedback and is looking to make improvements to the system in coming models. Ford had already warned about mixed quality results from the MyFord system in April, and that it was trying to tackle the issues that owners were facing.

The report highlights the issue of car maker rushing new technology into the market in order to beat the competition. But Sargent warned “automakers must be careful to walk before they run.”

However, it wasn’t all bad news for the Dearborn car manufacturer. The technology issue only affects selected Ford and Lincoln models that are factory fitted with the MyFord console. In addition, the Ford F-150 was the highest ranked among the ‘Large Pickup’ segment.

Another issue that was found to be prominent in this year’s report were engine and transmission problems relating to software that aimed to make cars more economical. This issue caused cars to “hesitate” during acceleration or gear shifting. However, the problem did not seem to affect any Ford models in the survey.