LOS ANGELES -- Ford Motor is extending warranties of itscontroversial MyFord Touch infotainment system and upgrading the systemin ways that could allay criticism that it's hard to use.
Thewarranty for the system that uses voice commands to let drivers placephone calls and radio controls is being extended from three years tofive years. For Ford's Lincoln luxury brand, it goes to six years, saysFord's North American chief Mark Fields, who is about to start at theautomaker's chief operating officer.
In addition, Ford is issuingSD cards, those postage-stamp sized digital recording devices, that canbe inserted to upgrade the systems.
The upgrade, called 3.5, showshow Ford is responding to poor scores on quality ratings from J.D.Power and Associates and others that record complaints from consumersabout infotainment systems that are hard to operate.
Yet Ford saysmany buyers come to the brand just because of its advanced infotainmentsystems. Even as it gets beat up in some independent surveys, Fordreports a survey of its own buyers show 71% would recommend MyFord Touchto a friend, according to Ford's U.S. sales chief, Jim Farley.
Ford'sSync system, which lets buyers bring their own personal smartphones tothe car to link to the infotainment systems, factored in 56% ofpurchases, he says. "I've never seen a $300 option have that kind ofimpact," he says.
But Fields, speaking to reporters at the Los Angeles Auto Show, says "We are very committed to technology" despite the reaction.