Ford Opens Innovation to Public

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Gone are the days when you could count on one company having all the good ideas, or so says Ford as it opens its doors — or at least its website — to consumer ideas about car features. Under its “Your Ideas” web page (at, you can tell Ford what you’re looking for in your “in-vehicle experience.”

Ford kicked off this change of culture in December when it announced it would allow students from the University of Michigan to develop open-source applications for the Sync system. Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas, announced the new website Tuesday.

The ideas will go beyond just a customer suggestion box, though. The automaker says it will open private information to its suppliers and encourage them to develop new ideas and products. The Joint Technology Framework, as it’s called, could become the biggest boon to vehicle innovation by giving companies with technical know-how the resources to devise and experiment with new ideas. It should also save some money on focus groups.

Perhaps taking a cue from Domino’s Pizza, Ford is even owning up to past missteps and a corporate culture that allowed for stagnation.

“There was a time when we did not prioritize innovation,” Fields told Drive On. “We were a good fast-follower. We understand that won’t work today.”

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