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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Ford technology is a hit with younger consumers

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Ford technology is a hit with younger consumers

Bryce G. Hoffman / The Detroit News

New York --Ford Motor Co. says its relationships with high-tech firms like Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp. are helping it connect with the holy grail of the car business: young consumers.

Ford and Microsoft jointly developed the popular Sync system that allows drivers to control their cell phones and music players with voice commands. At the New York International Auto Show this past week, the two companies announced that they are expanding their collaboration to include new software that will allow owners of electric vehicles to manage charging.

"Technologies like Sync, having partnered with Sony and Microsoft -- these have really helped. We have seen a change in the way Gen Y thinks about the Ford brand," said Jim Farley. "We've realized how important it is not only to improve fuel economy and design, but also to really dial it up with technology."

Analyst Art Spinella of CNW Marketing Research in Bandon, Ore., said Ford's strategy is working.

"Ford has been doing a really great job selling the technology and not the car, and that's what the youth market is looking for, according to all of our studies," he said. "We're seeing far younger consumers coming into Ford dealerships -- or dragging their parents into Ford dealerships -- than we have in 20 years."

Other analysts say the recent problems plaguing Toyota Motor Corp. also have created a new opening for Ford with younger car buyers because they have hurt the Japanese brand's image with young people, who are less familiar with its longstanding reputation for quality.

Farley, the man who launched Toyota's youth-oriented Scion brand, agreed that Ford will benefit from this.

"Gen Y also doesn't have the baggage of what we've been through in the last 15 years. They are more open to what we have to say," he said. "They're looking at Ford differently than their parents. They just want to know that we get it. A year ago, getting it was that we were going to fix our company ourselves. Now, as the economy is coming back, getting it is going to be working with the right partners on the right technologies."

link:

From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100404/AUTO01/4040303/1148/Ford-technology-is-a-hit-with-younger-consumers#ixzz0kEFD19ea

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