Ford Motor Company is calling on all app developers to help improve their in-car driving experience, Kumar Galhotra, the company’s V.P. of Asia Pacific told the audience at the 2013 GMIC Beijing.
“(mobile internet) is an industry we seem to have more in common with every day,” Galhotra said. “It’s experiencing incredible growth, like the automotive industry, and there is now an incredible opportunity to innovate and collaborate.”
Asia Pacific has become a growth engine for Ford, driving 70 percent of the company’s expected expansion in the immediate quarters to come. Most of that growth comes from China, Galhotra said, where many young consumers are snapping up their first cars.
“Technology is a leading purchase driver. Most customers in China buying their first vehicles are younger customers accustomed to readily accessible connectivity. Young Chinese spend more time on mobile than T.V. or with any other medium.Ford provides an in-car experience that keeps them connected.” Galhotra said.
To cater to this market, Ford is working towards making cars that are as connected as possible. In the U.S., it has already unveiled AppLink, a hands-free platform that allows a driver to utilize apps while driving a vehicle. One million vehicles in America are outfitted with the system, with the Chinese market soon to follow, Galhotra said.
To attract and enable developers to work with Ford, the company has launched an open-source communication channel with snippets of AppLink’s code, and hosted a “Hackathon” in conjunction with Baidu aimed at brainstorming and starting production of apps useful for the Ford driving experience.
“This could totally change the driving experience for our customer.” Galhotra said. “We want and need to build relationships with developers in China.”
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