x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Ford offers technology in bid to help drive sales traffic

Gitex 2011: There will be no more scratching the car while parking - Ford Middle East has developed a car that will park itself.

The introduction of self-parking technology forms part of a region-wide advertising campaign and the launch of Ford's new version of the Explorer. Courtesy Ford
The introduction of self-parking technology forms part of a region-wide advertising campaign and the launch of Ford's new version of the Explorer. Courtesy Ford

We have all been there - taking four attempts to parallel-park the car while a line of impatient motorists waits behind, honking their horns in annoyance.

But that could soon be a thing of the past, because Ford Middle East is rolling out technology in new models that enables the car to park itself.

Not only that, the manufacturer has invested in a whole host of other technology perks that Larry Prein, Ford's managing director for the Middle East, reckons will help drivers improve their road skills.

"Active Park Assist is where you line up the vehicle, press a button and the car does the rest, it really does," said Mr Prein. "It uses the cameras and radar both on the side and rear to park the car for you."

He says the technology has been available on some luxury cars in the past, but Ford is the first major manufacturer to bring it to the mass market at more affordable prices.

The introduction of the technology forms part of a region-wide advertising campaign and the launch of Ford's new version of the Explorer, which this week is the official car at the Gitex technology expo in Dubai.

All the new technologies will also be available with the latest Ford Focus, due to be unveiled at the Dubai International Motor Show next month.

"A lot of research has shown that distracted driving is a huge issue and our technology helps you overcome that," said Mr Prein. "It's not perfect, but our technology helps you become a better driver, or makes you more aware at least."

Ford has also developed a system that flashes a red light in the wing mirror to indicate a car in the blind spot when the driver is about to change lanes.

There is a cruise control function that slows the car down when it is approaching a vehicle in front, as well as a system that controls the car's descent on steep hills.

Ford cars can also be fitted with a collision avoidance system that flashes and beeps to let the driver know if the car in front has braked abruptly.

It will also prime the brakes so that if the driver does need to apply them, they will respond more quickly.

"Ford has made technology one of the cutting-edge things we are looking at doing. We think it differentiates Ford from a lot of the other car manufacturers," said Mr Prein.

Sales of Ford and Lincoln cars increased 57 per cent in the first nine months of the year compared with the same period last year, with the UAE market increasing 37 per cent and Saudi Arabia growing at the fastest rate in the region, at 74 per cent.

"We are now trying to drive people to consider Ford," said Mr Prein. "You have to give people some differentiating things and the technology is one of them."

Some technology functions come as standard, such as the My Ford Touch and Sync systems. These allow a driver to sync his smart phone with the car and use either a touch screen or voice activated controls to play a song, call a friend or pick a radio station. My Ford Touch also has a camera that displays the area behind the car.

Other features, such as airbags for the back-seat passengers - Ford is the first manufacturer to offer the option - come as added extras.

rjones@thenational.ae