Ford shares ideas on future mobility, wins design award

LOOKING AHEAD: Ford mobility strategist Eric Wingfield talked about many new technologies and some in the pipeline that will transform transportation as we know it in the years to come.
LOOKING AHEAD: Ford mobility strategist Eric Wingfield talked about many new technologies and some in the pipeline that will transform transportation as we know it in the years to come. –Bill Griffith

The look of our future mobility, especially in urban areas, likely will be much different from what it is today.

Eric Wingfield, Ford mobility strategist, spoke about the future of transportation as the featured luncheon speaker leading into the May 26 technology and design conference at MIT, co-sponsored by the New England Motor Press Association (NEMPA).

In March, Ford created Smart Mobility, a subsidiary to expand the company’s operations to encompass being both an auto and mobility company.

A decade ago, Ford took its lumps for being out front in developing its Sync infotainment system. Today, in its third generation, Sync3 has made huge advances.

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Now the company is tackling global mobility with a multifaceted approach, knowing some endeavors won’t pan out and expecting that others will.

What they do know is that we live in a world of increasing urbanization in which the worldwide middle class is projected to grow from the current 2 billion to 4 billion by 2030.

Among Ford’s efforts are 25 experimental programs involving smarter cars, buses, cycles, phones, drivers, roads, mapping, infrastructure, and cities.

Air quality and health risks are a growing concern, and in-car sensors could monitor passengers’ condition and infrastructure sensors could make medical care available to rural areas.

Younger generations increasingly are comfortable with using their smartphones to plan transportation, including using several modes of transport to get to a destination. They’re also more receptive to various forms of car-sharing.

Big Data from vehicles is available, and the question is how to use it. The average vehicle in motion can produce 25 GB of data per hour, and volunteer Ford employees are helping gather it from their own driving and car-sharing.

Ford envisions a changing future, and these are steps as the company feels its way ahead.

Some scenarios being tested or planned include remote car re-positioning, paying by the minute for a car-on-demand, premium mini-buses shuttling you about town, and having a driver’s passport that starts with your driving history and figures your insurance rates no matter what you’re driving.

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“We’ve had 170 joint projects with MIT since we began collaborating 18 years ago,’’ says Wingfield. “There are many more models out there with various other entities and many more to come.’’

Ritvo Design Award

Ford’s 2017 GT supercar won the Gene Ritvo Award for design and elegance this year.

The award is named for the late Gene Ritvo, a longtime NEMPA member who had an eye for style and beauty.

In his honor, NEMPA has arranged for design and auto experts from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline to help select the Ritvo Award winner each year.

The 2017 Fort GT was first unveiled at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, the 50th anniversary of the Ford GT40 that won the fabled LeMans 24-hour race four consecutive years from 1966-1969.

“The challenge of producing a car like this is that the original is one of the most iconic and decorated cars in American automobile history,’’ says Zachary Dollar, of the MFA in Boston. “Ford kept enough of the soul of the original that it still is identifiable, but used modern tools, materials, and technology to make it a car of today.’’

It a was a night for many awards, including to individuals. Ed Welburn was named Designer of the Year in keeping with the day’s events. Welburn, who will be retiring this year, is only the sixth design head in GM history. And Jean Jennings won the Lifetime Achievement Award. Jennings was one of the founders of Automobile magazine and its editor in chief and president. She now focuses on her website, Jean Knows Cars.

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The NEMPA New England Winter Vehicle of the Year was the Honda Pilot. The other Winter Vehicle Class Winners were:

All-Weather Sedan/Wagon (less than $30,000): Subaru Outback

Sedan/Wagon $30,000-$40,000: Dodge Charger

Luxury Sedan/Wagon: Tie, BMW 750i X-Drive and Mercedes-Benz S550

Sports Car: Jaguar F-Type

Sub-Compact SUV/Crossover: Mazda CX-3

SUV less than $28,000: Hyundai Tucson

Mid-Priced SUV/Crossover: Jeep Wrangler/Jeep Cherokee

Luxury SUV/Crossover: Infiniti QX60

Premium SUV: Range Rover HSE

Full-Size Truck: Ford F-150 Compact/Midsize

Pickup: Toyota Tacoma

Yankee Value Award: Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

NEMPA Heritage Award: Chevrolet Suburban

Green SUV/Crossover: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Yankee Technology Cup: Toyota for its TSS Safety Sense system.

Value Convertible: Mazda MX-5 Miata

Convertible: Ford Mustang

Luxury Convertible: Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG

Etc.

If you’re up early this morning on the South Shore, Herb Chambers has his Cars ‘n Coffee from 7-10 a.m. at Lexus of Sharon … The Maynard Area Car Club has its 28th annual show this morning (8-noon) at 45 Old Mill Road … The Hull Police are expecting up to 500 cars at their 12th Cops for Kids show at Nantasket Beach from 9-2 … It’s Corvette Day at Larz Anderson Auto Museum (10-2), and Smolak Farms has its 3rd annual show (with hayrides) today (9-3) on South Bradford Street in North Andover … Next Saturday, Ashley Ford in New Bedford has its 12th annual all-Ford show (specializing in Mustangs) at the dealership on Mt. Pleasant Street from 10-3 … Also next Saturday, there are a pair of museum events. Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich has a behind the scenes tour with auto curator Jennifer Madden from 11 a.m.-noon. Contact Julie at 508-888-3300, ext. 175 for details. And Owls Head Museum in Owls Head, Maine, has its American antique car and airplane show (weather permitting) from 9-3.

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