Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Beginning

The event for Ford was down in Irvine (past Disneyland), so I asked around for how long I would need to give my self to get there. Since Maggie has been gone it is necessary for me to rely on Google maps and such to get me places (damn I miss her, but that is another post). The Google map said it should take me about 55 minutes, I asked Kathy if I should leave (to arrive by 9:30 a half hour before “call time”) at 8ish and she said to leave closer to 7:30 to give my self enough time. I left at 7:30 and was there before 8:30 so now I was an hour and a half early. No worries, we Van Houten women go no where without a book.

Once we get past the niceities of introducing all the Ford and the PR people we get down to informing us.

Hal Dewsnap (forgive me if the name is incorrect) – Sales Manager for California ( a native Detroiter I believe), informed of the drop in units being built due to the drop in sales. This year so far there is a 5 million drop in units and the year is only half through. Even though people are supposedly forgoing their bigger cars for smaller gas friendly cars it really is not boosting sales of vehicles. The economy is so down trodden that people can't afford even a new used car to make the switch. He also informed us that the Los Angeles County Lifeguards are now all driving Ford Escape Hybrids that have been specially built for them. They were having problems with the cars they were driving sometimes spinning in the sand. When their contract was up, THEY contacted Ford about customizing the Hybrid for their Lifeguards. While speaking about this I recalled (and someone later mentioned) an article in Westways (AAA) magazine that talked about the new Lifeguard vehicles. What the Hal didn't mention but Westways did, is that Ford donated those vehicles. Hal also spoke effectively (to me anyways) about something called PZEV, again that's another post, because it is what generated the most attention form me and I think is totally underated in our quest for going green.

Tom Hodges – I don't know his title, but I know he was in charge of the Sync (approx. $400 option). Sync is a collaboration with MicroSoft (so it will probably crash more than once) that includes, your entertainment system, your hands free (now mandatory in CA) phone system and soon to be your GPS and infotainment system. The first thing I notice about the hands free system is that while it has features like On-Star (from GM), like automatic accident assistance and emergency help response, it uses your bluetooth phone. That could be good or bad. Good in that, you don't have to purchase separate minutes as you do with On-Star and you can connect up to 12 different Bluetooth phones to this system (albeit only one at a time can actually be recognized). But bad in a sense that what if you are in an accident and unable to respond? Your wonderful Sync will respond for you but only if you remembered to bring your phone with you that day or it isn't out of battery or didn't go flying or get damaged in the accident. Just something for Ford to think about. Something else the Sync does is run a Vehicle Health Report (again using your phone though, so you have to use your minutes), which will be used to collaborate information from your car, your dealer (as if anyone actually uses dealers for maintanence anymore) and then transmitted to your computer. You can then access all of that information on the Sync My Ride web site. There is no fee for the health report other than your cell plan minutes. All in all I was very impressed with the Sync, but have a hard time believing that something that is in association with Microsoft is going to be good all the time and you won't need to “update or upgrade” it every couple of months or so.

Freeman (?) - Lead Designer. I have no idea if that is his last name or first name or his moniker. While all the other Ford heads were in suits and ties he was in jeans and a sport coat. There was no mistaking he was the “artsy” end of the drawing board. He admitted right at the start of his presentation that he and his staff were “abstract thinkers”. I like that. He referred to his team as being “cultural engineers”, which I took to mean they weren't designing cars to be just people movers but as a part of the culture of our world. Which was a part of their thinking when designing the Flex (did I mention how much I liked this car?). The best quote from his presentation struck a chord with me “Driving a Ford is like wearing a white cotton t-shirt and a pair of worn blue jeans”. I have always felt that jeans and a white shirt were the sexiest outfit a man could wear, so no wonder I am so attracted to the Flex.

At this point we went outside and got a “walk around” each of the cars we were focusing (pun totally intended) on that day. After that it was time for lunch (uh no thanks) and then time to drive.

1 comment:

  1. Adrienne, I notice that you expressed some concern about how one might dial a phone in the event of an accident. Well, let me put your worry to rest.

    The latest update of SYNC will have 911 Assist, which is designed to place a 911 call automatically when the airbags are deployed. And the key advantage of SYNC 911 Assist is the speed - calls are placed directly to 911 operators, so there are no hand-offs and no need to speak to a call center operator.

    Since SYNC is updatable, customers who already own SYNC-equipped vehicles will be able to have their systems updated with the new feature.