Published on January 11th, 2016 | by Tina Casey


Big News From Ford: Mystery Car To Be Unveiled At Detroit NAIAS, New FordPass

January 11th, 2016 by  

If you were wondering about that new “mystery car” that Ford has been teasing, wonder a little longer. Here it is on the showroom floor at the North American International Auto Show before the great unveiling scheduled for later today, which is billed as a “Performance News Announcement:”

FORD NAIAS mystery car 2016

We’ll have pix for you short after the 4:45 pm (Detroit time) event. Meanwhile, this morning Ford had some other big news to present.

More Big News From Ford

The other day, we were wondering what big news Ford had left to offer after the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, when the company blizzarded the Intertubes with news about its latest Smart Mobility initiatives, including the Techstars Mobility startup accelerator project.

Well, it appears that Ford has saved the best for last, or at least the most unusual for last. At this morning’s NAIAS press conference, Ford rolled out a potentially transformative customer engagement product called FordPass:

Ford FordPass

As explained by Ford CEO and President Mark Fields, Ford historically has relied on a customer engagement model that typically kicks in a year before the customer makes a purchase, and then goes into deep hibernation until the customer is ready for another new car.

That was then. Introducing FordPass with the comment, “We’re going to disrupt ourselves,” Fields explained that the new service will launch in April with a continuous 24/7 customer engagement experience, with the aim of transforming its relationship with drivers in the same way that Apple transformed the music industry with iTunes.

In keeping with the iTunes theme, FordPass is free to all car owners, not just Ford customers.

FordPass participants get access to mobility products (that’s the “Marketplace”), 24/7 assistance from real live “mobility guides” for help with gridlock alternatives and other transportation issues, a customer rewards program, and something called Ford Hubs.

The Ford Hubs will be brick-and-mortar facilities where people can come and learn about the latest mobility technology, without any sales pressure. The first one opens in New York City in April, so stay tuned.


So far, the big buzz on FordPass has been its partnership with McDonald’s and 7-11 for customer appreciation, and its use in finding parking spots (or finding your car if you forget where you parked it). That doesn’t seem particularly deep, but we’re thinking there’s more to it than you might think. McDonald’s, for example, is only just beginning to realize its full potential as a transportation company, and the parking thing involves not one but three partners: ParkWhiz, Parkopedia, and FlightCar.

At the press conference, Ford CTO and EVP for Product Development Raj Nair also told us all to look forward to other new products and initiatives to come. We’ll have more details on those as they roll out, including the outcomes of Ford’s new wearables lab, including biometric devices that can help you recognize when you’re too tired to drive before you even feel yourself drifting into a stupor; a pilot program for a new lease-sharing option that enables up to 6 drivers to share the cost of owning a car; a related lease program that enables you to apply unused miles to your next lease; and an expansion of Ford’s autonomous driving fleet, including a world-first test in snowy conditions.

What About The Cars!

Oh, right, the cars. The packed Ford press conference showcased the new Raptor F-150 and the new Fusion, including this honey below, the newest Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid. It’s not a full 100% EV, but you can switch to “EV Now” mode with the push of a button to draw mainly from the battery, or go for the 500+ mile range by drawing on the gas tank in “auto EV” mode:

Fusion Ford Hybrid EV

And look, US Senator Tom Carper (D-Delaware) was there!

Senator Tom Carper Ford NAIAS

So was Ryan Seacrest, btw, but we couldn’t get close enough for a nice shot.

We’ll have more news from Detroit tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

  • Marley

    A 100% electric Fusion that gets 200-plus miles of range per charge would easily compete with Tesla.

    • MorinMoss

      Ford has yet to make an EV that can compete with Nissan.

  • mourningair

    I hope they give e-coupons for McDonald’s that I don’t have to print. I’d like to just show my phone and get the discount

  • ROBwithaB

    Is it possible to down-vote an article, like I can with a YouTube video.
    That should be a thing…

  • ROBwithaB

    All hat and no cattle.

  • ROBwithaB

    I’ll pass.
    No thanks.
    A glorified “loyalty” program that lets them abuse my personal contact details to try to spam me into going to McDonalds and other “partners”. I effing hate McDonalds.
    I want a proper electric car from Ford. Or a truck. Or whatever. A thing that can carry me from A to B, without using fossil fuels.

    Long range, affordable electric transportation. That’s the new dance that all the cool kids are doing. The music has already changed and you’re making a fool of yourself by doing the hokey pokey all by yourself on the dance floor, like some sad lonely awkward kid.

    Sorry. this entire article is a waste of time. Nothing to see here, except the same old marketing hype.

    • Shane 2

      GM is building a BEV but they made it ugly so no one would buy it.

      • anom

        ford cant find or build me 2 new valve covers for my 1989 bronco 2. When i go online to find them it seems like it is a dirty word. What a bunch of rusty junk that ford makes. I will PASS.

      • ROBwithaB

        The marketing philosophy now known as the “Mirai approach”.

    • LA Marty

      Without using fossil fuels? Yeah, its called a bicycle. Remember, unless you have a solar panels at your home, every time you “plug in”, you are using what ever kind of fuel your electric company is using to generate power. Be it coal, oil, etc.

      • ROBwithaB

        Let me guess… You’re new here?

        The advantages of electric propulsion vs an internal combustion engine (ICE) are well understood and very well documented.
        Bob Wallace can no doubt send you a bunch of links that will bring you up to speed with the real numbers, if you’re interested in learning more.

        Essentially, the inherent inefficiencies of combustion-based energy conversion (the “Carnot cycle”) can never be overcome. After more than a century, and trillions of dollars, we’re pretty much at the limit of what is physically possible with an ICE. Around 70% of the energy is wasted as heat, and there’s not much you can do about it.
        Electric motors, on the other hand, are MUCH more efficient. And even batteries, which obviously have limits on round-trip efficiency, are better than 80% and still have significant room for improvement. A total system efficiency of perhaps 90% is attainable. Basically 3X more efficient than ICE.

        So there’s that. The other thing is that wind and solar power have already achieved wholesale cost parity, in many parts of the world, with thermal power plants. And costs are still dropping every year. Within a decade, it is unlikely that there will be ANY new thermal plants built. And the old ones are slowly being retired. This means that the proportion of “green” energy on the grid is growing, every year. The solar panels don’t need to be on YOUR roof, they just need to be somewhere that’s connected to “your” grid.

        And feel free to check out what proportion of electrical power nowadays is actually generated by burning oil. Effectively zero.
        You are likely to embarrass yourself on here by spouting that sort of ill-informed soundbite. Not everyone will be as polite about correcting you as I have been.

        But yes. it always takes energy to move a big lump of car around, even at “perfect” motive efficiency. There’s still air resistance and road friction and so on.

        Clearly, a bicycle is a much more sustainable option.

  • Tim

    Don’t read. Ford made a fart car. Burns pure ethanol on a race track

  • Dragon

    I hope the mystery car is a pony!

    I dunno, this FordPass thing sounds a lot like any number of customer rewards programs based on points that seem to come and go from supermarkets, drug stores, and wherever else and rarely offer benefits that are worth the time invested in trying to figure them out. I always get things like a $2 off coupon for the name brand drug that costs $5 more than the house brand with the same active ingredient.

  • I hope the mystery car is a close to production plug in SUV with more EV range than the current Fusion and Cmax offering. On a dedicated platform, the battery integration would be much better than Ford’s current approach.

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