Popular crossover will introduce CarPlay connectivity system to Ford customers

Ford has announced that Apple’s iPhone-connected, in-dash CarPlay system will finally make its debut on Ford models, with the 2017 Ford Escape becoming the first vehicle to get the feature.

The addition of CarPlay opens up a new world of connectivity for would-be buyers of the 2017 Escape. Ford saw to that when it announced back in January 2016 that apps like CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto platform would be integrated into the automaker’s new SYNC3 infotainment system. In CarPlay’s case, iPhone users can access a gamut of useful tools and apps under Apple’s iOS software. The usual iPhone features and apps like phone calls, messages, music, maps, podcasts, and social media apps can now be accessed through the Escape’s in-dash display. Take note that all of these features will come on top of the gizmos and gadgetry already included in the SYNC3 system.

CarPlay integration also serves Ford and its customers very well as it allows users to immerse themselves into the next step of Ford’s mobility and connectivity systems. Ford didn’t give a reason as to why the 2017 Escape was chosen as the first model to get CarPlay, but a combination of segment popularity and strong sales numbers suggest that debuting on the 2017 Escape would introduce CarPlay integration into SYNC3 to a bigger segment than most of Ford’s other models. The Escape belongs to one of the most popular segments in the U.S. today, and the crossover’s strong sales numbers makes it the perfect test bed of sorts to introduce CarPlay to Ford customers. Only the F-Series pickups and the Fusion sold more units in February 2016 than the Escape.

Other Ford models are expected to receive CarPlay and Android Auto in the future, but for now, it has been decided that the 2017 Escape, which goes on sale in May 2017, will be the first in line.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

0Why it matters0

2017 Ford Escape To Get First Dibs On Apple CarPlay
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On the surface, these partnerships Ford struck with Apple and Google looks smooth enough, but if you dig a little deeper, it’s anything but. That’s why it’s important to give credit to Ford for not getting stuck in its own way and opting to partner with the two tech giants to integrate CarPlay and Android Auto into its own SYNC3 system, itself a Microsoft product. The truth is that Ford probably didn’t like seeing these two smartphone interfaces gain the momentum that they did. But instead of shutting them out even if they work in the same ecosystem, Ford did the right thing by actually embracing what its “rivals” have to offer, while not shooting down its own system in the process.

The technical relationship between SYNC3 and, in this case, CarPlay, is a concept that flies above my head. But what I do know is that SYNC3 still acts as the head of the household. It’s still its own system and it still has exclusive control of things like climate systems and satellite radio stations. Having CarPlay in the mix works because it can broaden its horizon and expand on the features that can be used for the system. At the very least, it doesn’t make the SYNC3 system look like a hermit in its own house.

I’m looking forward to seeing how these partnerships play out once their available on other Ford models. The automaker didn’t give a specific date, opting only to say that it’s coming “later this year.” Regardless, the level of connectivity and integration is very impressive. It goes to show that, at the very least, competition doesn’t always have to be cutthroat. You can offer the similar products, but if you can work together, you can turn both your products into something even better. That’s my hope for the SYNC3 infotainment system once CarPlay and Android Auto are fully function.

02017 Ford Escape0

2017 Ford Escape
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Read our full review on For Escape here.

Press Release

Production of the new 2017 Ford Escape – available with driver-assist technology that can help keep drivers in their lane, maintain a set speed and distance on the highway, and even aid drivers in getting out of a tight parking spot – is now underway.

The new Escape, which goes on sale in May, will be the first Ford vehicle available with all-new SYNC® Connect technology, making the ownership experience easier through vehicle features such as remote start and door locking via the new FordPass® platform. Escape will also be first to offer SYNC 3 featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

And thanks to multiple new attention-to-detail stations at Louisville Assembly Plant, Ford is putting more emphasis than ever on delivering the highest-quality Escape to its customers.

Workers at Louisville Assembly have been manufacturing Escape since 2012. Since then, production has steadily increased to meet growing demand for the No. 1-selling Ford Motor Company SUV. In 2015, Louisville Assembly built 306,492 units – a record for the nameplate – all while maintaining a high standard of quality that put 2015 Escape in a tie* as Highest-Ranked Compact SUV by J.D. Power in Initial Quality.

“We’re constantly evolving and improving our processes, and the J.D. Power award is our reward,” said David Farley, Louisville Assembly Plant quality manager. “It’s a real tribute to the thousands of workers who help create every Escape vehicle.”

Louisville Assembly is a sprawling 3.7-million-square-foot plant that houses 4,722 hourly employees, 247 salaried workers and 20.1 miles of assembly conveyor. It is one of Ford’s highest-volume production facilities in the world, capable of manufacturing up to six different vehicles at any time. Yet with Ford’s compact SUV in such great demand, most vehicles built at Louisville wear an Escape badge.

Quality assurances are implemented throughout the plant to ensure craftsmanship is maintained at the pressing pace with which the line moves. A combination of state-of-the-art technology methods and thorough human scrutiny is evident from one station to the next.

At each of these stations – in just 45 seconds – vehicle quality is verified to ensure that every Escape meets the high standard for quality compact SUV drivers in North America expect.

Automated instrument panel decking: The use of robots to install instrument panels has now migrated to the company’s plants globally, but Louisville was Ford’s first North American facility to use robots for the task. Here, from a nearby conveyor, a robot attaches to an Escape instrument panel, then rotates toward the shell of a vehicle. Angling the instrument panel through a door-less opening, the robot nestles it in place with unwavering accuracy and assured repeatability, says Escape chief engineer Milton Wong. The robot even secures a few bolts to hold the panel in place until humans can complete more detailed aspects of the process further down the line. Customer benefits include a tighter fit for the instrument panel, resulting in fewer squeaks and rattles.
Robotic arms hang doors, liftgate: Highly efficient robotic arms lift door panels and liftgates from a nearby conveyor hanger and swing them into place with computer-guided consistency. These revolutionary robots were added when Escape production moved to Louisville for the 2013 model year. Customer benefits include tighter fit with body panels.
Easy speed testing: To ensure that closing a door on Escape is consistently effortless, a worker applies suction cup-backed sensors to either side of a door opening, then closes the door by hand to get a velocity reading, which calculates the amount of effort required. Once it’s verified the amount of effort does not exceed the Ford standard, the tools are quickly moved to the next door for another test. Customer benefit is that minimum effort is required to close doors.
Vehicle on wheels cell: As each Escape moves along the line, it passes through the vehicle on wheels cell, where robots wielding lasers scan every gap between door panels, hood and liftgate. Through laser measurement, they quickly determine all gaps are within the 2 millimeter to 4 millimeter range. Customer benefits include tighter fit and finish of body panels.
Customer assurance line: A 14-person inspection team combs over the finest details on each new Escape. A technician tests electrical modules, while another checks the engine. Some rely on their hands; others, their eyes. It’s a meticulous process, as team members work with frenzied precision like a pit crew attending to a race car. Customer benefit is improved overall vehicle quality.

Three shifts of line workers are tasked with keeping pace at Louisville Assembly Plant – 20 hours per day on weekdays, 10 hours on the weekend. Through the first two months of 2016, Escape is on track to eclipse last year’s record sales, and available new features and Ford’s commitment to high quality should only broaden the vehicle’s appeal.

Other new features available include enhanced active park assist. Two EcoBoost® engines are newly available – a 1.5-liter and a 2.0-liter twin-scroll, both with Auto Start/Stop functionality.

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