I recently had the chance to attend my first press trip for Ford's Go Further campaign. I spent three days really getting to know the in's and out's of the Ford Motor Company. I was impressed with not only the direction Ford is traveling but the plans they have in store to continue to "Go Further."
I had a few moments to myself and decided to visit the Ford Museum as well as Greenfield Village. Being a secret history nerd, I could have spent many days in either place, but given my time constraints, I made sure I spotted a Model T, visited a historic energy source as well as learn a little about 19th century fashion. (Ladies, the size of the flower and uniqueness let all of the villagers know just how wealthy your man really was. Big Flower=Big Status) From the look of my borrowed 1890's handmade hat, I'd say I was fairing pretty well. As a my time as a tourist came to a close, I quickly took in a few last sites and then headed out to media dinner to get better aquainted with the Ford company.
Listening to environmentalist, and executive chairman of Ford Motor Company, Bill Ford, the great grandson of THE Henry Ford, was inspiring. As he sat down for an interview by David Kirkpatrick author of The Facebook Effect, he spoke as if he was speaking at the family dinner table instead of to over 300 media persons at the Ford Detroit Lions stadium. (The Ford Stadium is a new, environmentally friendly stadium, further underscoring Bill Ford's commitment to environmental stewardship). He was surprisingly down to earth, quite intuitive, passionate and clearly loves what he does. He left quite an impression on me, and I look forward to learning more about his global perspective on the Ford Motor Company. He no longer wants to view it as just an automotive company, but instead one that's focused on global transportation.
Over the next few days I was able to attend discussions on technology, eco-psychology, design, urbanization, and yes, I even had the chance to meet and discuss environmental activism with actor Adrian Grenier, which for this eco minded woman was nothing short of exhilarating.
Go Further Design: Ford has so many innovative design features in their vehicles. The craftsmanship, sleek design and precision functionality enable Ford to create products that consumers are demanding. Ford uses advanced technology called FIVE (Ford's Immersive Vehicle Environment) where new vehicles come to life well before they hit production. This cuts down on cost, and increases production time all while maintaining an excellent level of craftsmanship. Ford has even joined up with fashion and interior design star, Jason Wu with Target to make high-end products accessible to a wider range of consumers. Sustainability plays a tremendous role in the area of design. Using materials that are not only recycled, but recyclable is part of Ford's commitment to creating a vehicle that is 95% recyclable using a cradle to cradle model.
Go Further Technology: Ford's innovative connectivity technologies allow drivers to send voice commands to their vehicle to control everything from song selection to navigation. MyFord Touch driver controls, powered by SYNC not only "hear" the commands of the driver but have the unique ability to interpret those commands. LCD screens are easy to read, customizable and replace the many knobs and buttons on the dashboard. MyFord Touch controls are accessible through button actuation, voice command and touch screen apps to create an individualized driving experience. SYNC Applink is a no charge Ford feature that allows you to control smart phone apps with voice command.
I even had the chance to test out the "streamline & simplify" technology which detected both my heart rate and pulse and would alter the controls in my vehicle based on my "numbers." When the sensors pick up increased levels of stress, they automatically turn down the radio, do not allow incoming calls and help you navigate the roads so that you are operating the vehicle with utmost safety.
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Go Further Urban: Ford has its eye on the severe gridlock and traffic problems drivers are facing in busy cities all around the world. Ford is developing technologies designed to help drivers deal with the difficulties tough traffic patterns present. New technologies are designed to improve vehicle flow by maintaining lane position.
Ford's Traffic Jam Assist has automatic speed regulation and adaptive cruise control, all created to cut down on "bumper to bumper" traffic and increase fuel economy. Urban driver but have difficulty parking? Ford's genius engineers are crafting the active park assist technology that will enable drivers to park hands-free!
Ford has also teamed up with Zipcar to promote car-sharing for drivers to rent by the day, hour to cut down on the high costs and hassles of owning individuals vehicles. Ford is committed to transforming the way we think about transportation to move beyond cars. As Bill Ford said, "We cannot successfully make cars for the next 100 years as we have been making cars for the last 100 years".
Go Further Eco- Psychology: For this eco minded woman, I was most interested in learning more about Ford's plans for increased sustainability, eco innovation and positive changes they are making today to affect the world of tomorrow.
Panelists spoke about the "Butterfly Effect" describing how "small changes can affect,large, complex and even unrelated systems." I was excited to learn about the many sustainable materials already being used in Ford's vehicles. Materials such as soybean based foam, denim and recycled plastic battery casings are being used to cut down on new material usage.
Ford has already reduced energy consumption by 22% in the last five years with plans to further reduce energy consumption by another 25% in the next five years. Additionally, Ford has reduced the amount of waste-to-landfill by 100 million pounds in the last five years. Ford has cut the amount of water used in the manufacture of each vehicle by nearly half in the last 12 years and looks to continue to reduce their water usage. I was able to tour the wind tunnel and watch a aerodynamicist showing off the sleek design of the newer Ford models to achieve class-leading or unsurpassed fuel efficiency by reducing friction and drag.
As I mentioned, I also enjoyed spending time with actor and producer Adrian Grenier ("Entourage") about SFT.com, a sustainability lifestyle platform as well as the charming Liz Heller, media maven and currently works with brands such as TOMS, Pepsi and JoinRED (notice her enviable TOMS' shades!)
Three packed (and very informative) days, I loved learning more about this historic brands and hearing how they are changing the way automobiles are being produced and will be sure to follow Ford as they continue to "GO FURTHER".
All accommodations and airfare were paid by FORD.