If you're planning a digital service so ambitious it's billed as "doing for car owners what iTunes did for music" then you would hire a Silicon Valley genius to make it happen, right? Not at Ford. Instead, the executive tasked with launching FordPass in Europe, Joerg Ullrich, who studied crane engineering and whose previous job at Ford was in manufacturing forecasting. Although he doesn't have a resume that matches those of Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, Ford believes Ullrich is the right man to help the automaker try to catch up with powerful digital challengers.
FordPass, which arrives at U.S. dealers this month in the revised Ford Escape and launches in Europe later this year, is a key part of Ford's aim to become a mobility company as well as a carmaker. Essentially it's a smartphone app that bundles relevant services to help a person get around, for example, finding the nearest parking space or booking a train ticket. It's free, whether you own a Ford or not.
FordPass is part of the automaker's effort to integrate itself far more into customers' lives. "Ford and other automakers are recognizing we are in a transition point between cars as a product and cars as a service. FordPass is a starting point for how Ford mobility will achieve that in the future," said Mark C. Boyadjis, principal analyst and manager of automotive user experience at IHS Automotive.