Ford looks to Thailand for insights into new innovations

Auto & Audio September 08, 2015 01:00

By ASINA PORNWASIN
THE NATION

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FORD MOTOR'S Global Consumer Trends and Futuring team yesterday met with seven Thai thought leaders as part of its study of global consumer trends.



Sheryl Connelly, manager of the project, said Bangkok is an interesting city and also an important city in the Asean region.
Ford would like to get in-depth insights into consumer trends in the city. 
“I have jotted down the interesting things from the discussion with the Thai experts in the seven key areas. 
“It is not promised that all the ideas we got will become final products from Ford, but they are the interesting ones. They will be a part of developing the Global Consumer Trends for 2016,” she said.
The one distinguishing trend is the ageing of the population. Automobile manufacturers like Ford would like to consider these trends. 
When the company designs and produces vehicles, designers think about the features that older people might need. 
For example, the current technologies that Ford has embedded into its vehicles include a sensory system, camera bumper, speed adjust system and parking assistant. 
“We cannot produce vehicles specifically for ageing people only, but we can produce Ford vehicles with the concept of universal design that can be used and benefit people aged between 26 and 62 years,” she said.
The company would use the insight information from the discussion with the seven thought leaders in Thailand to make a better vehicle. 
“I do not look at cars as the industry does, but I look at it from the outside point of view. For us, innovation is the tool that helps and builds a better life,” she said.
The ideas she got from the discussion will pass through many parts of the company such as car design and engineering, to blend the ideas into the final product. 
Innovation for the vehicle can be both “need to have” and “nice to have”. 
In the perception of the older generation, a car is the standard or success symbol, but in the eyes of Gen Z, the success symbol or living standard symbol is about smartphones or technology gadgets. 
The way Ford approaches this group of people has to change. The company has Ford SYNC, a Sync platform, to connect the in-vehicle communications and entertainment system to help drivers interact easily with it and control it without having to touch it.
“We have to have Ford SYNC for the new generation of drivers,” she said.
Thailand is an important country for Ford. It has two manufacturing operations here. 
One is AutoAlliance Thailand, a joint venture assembly firm co-owned by Ford Motor and Mazda Motor Corporation in Rayong. This plant has a production capacity of 295,000 units for both Ford and Mazda. 
The other one is Ford Thailand Manufacturing with production capacity of 150,00 vehicles. Total exports of Ford’s plants are about 75-80 per cent of output.