With Behind the Blue Oval, Ford’s Focus on Innovative Lifestyle Technology is Clear

During the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), while most manufacturers concentrated on debuting vehicles and meeting the press, Ford took another route.

Sure, they debuted their fair share of vehicles. Who can forget the introductions to the new track-ready GT and GT 350R or the fun-for-all-seasons Raptor?

FordNAIASBut aside from those, in an area they called Behind the Blue Oval, Ford featured two days packed full of speakers talking about everything from Generation Z innovators, SnapChat, technology trends, and the design process of the new SYNC 3 infotainment system. One thing is clear, Ford views themselves as more than just a car company.

Whether it’s a greener work environment, changing the way consumers experience their vehicles through technology, or creating travel destinations, the focus of Ford’s brand identity has evolved into a lifestyle.

For a company that is quickly evolving, they’re spending a lot of time looking backward. Henry Ford was a notorious tinkerer before he became the famed industrialist and his innovations changed the world. The moving assembly line changed the way humans worked on product assembly worldwide and offering a living wage to Ford workers changed labor practices in business across the United States.

FordNAIASWith an eye toward consumer trends and where the market is headed, Ford is set to revolutionize the way their customers consume their products by putting to the forefront lifestyle over horsepower for the average consumer.

Sure, the vehicles still need to run. They still need to have the get up and go to get your family down the highway but, while you’re on the highway, that’s where Ford’s next generation innovation is being put to the test.

As we ventured through Ford’s Behind the Blue Oval space at the Cobo Center in Detroit, one of the first things that got our attention was the multi-story tall social media wall where Ford was showcasing and engaging with journalists talking about their brand.

FordNAIASIn front of that wall? A Ford Explorer which saw no great redesign this year but is set for a major milestone in 2016 and the Ford Edge. Next to that were tables upon tables for media to park themselves and get work done while SiriusXM interviewed Ford bigwigs- by far the most info share-friendly space (and that includes the Michelin Media Center).

In front of the Edge is a peek into Ford’s archives, showcasing just how far the company has come in 100+ years.

A quarter of Ford’s Behind the Blue Oval space is devoted to lifestyle options including the SYNC 3, allowing show attendees to experience the new system and its various functions. The theme continues into the center section where Ford’s environmental impact is addressed and there are areas devoted to the new F-150 with Beacon Technology and MyEnergi Lifestyle which concentrates on familial energy usage.

Doug Newcomb, a car technology expert perfectly described what Ford is trying to do during one of the Behind the Blue Oval speaker sessions on Monday, “Connected car space technology has transformed most things in our lives. I think we are the verge of changing the very way we get around.”

FordNAIASThe only question left is if the auto industry can move fast enough.

In a world where concept cars are years in the making, and it takes years to go from concept to production vehicle, can new models keep up with the tech world where six month old technology is old technology?

That’s one of the reasons Sheryl Connelly has a job. She’s Ford’s Manager of Global Consumer Trends and Futuring. She looks back in time, works with large pools of data to analyze it for trends, and brings all that information to Ford’s R&D team where they work on integrating future technology and trends into Ford vehicles.

What can you expect next from Ford? If our Behind the Blue Oval experience taught us anything, it was to look back to look forward.

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To see more pictures and video from our trip to NAIAS, follow Drive My Family on InstagramTwitterFacebook, and Vine (@DriveMyFamily).

Disclaimer: Ford Motor Company paid for Drive My Family’s travel and accommodations at the three-day #FordNAIAS Digital Summit. Drive My Family was not compensated in any other matter for participating in the North American International Auto Show. Opinions, as always, are our own.

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