Big Game Training: Rob’s Mental Workout

After a funny buildup with comedian Rob Riggle we now know the meaning of #nearlydouble. If you didn’t catch Ford’s epic spot featuring John Franco during the big game you can view it here:

  

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Car Review: 2013 Ford C-Max Energi SEL

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If you are a customer looking to optimize your hybrid car experience, the all-new 2013 Ford C-Max Energi SEL could be the right car for you. This impressive new offering from the Blue Oval has the potential to be another home run in the improving U.S. auto market.

EXTERIOR

Looks aren’t everything in a car, and that holds even truer when one is looking for fuel efficiency. But when a car looks good, there is no better starting point. With the 2013 Ford C -Max Energi SEL, we might have the first true hybrid that can boasts good looks as one of the main selling points. Ford was smart by taking the European Focus C-Max and transforming that car into one of the best cars on the market. Our test model sported 17-inch machined aluminum wheels, fog lamps, power lift gate and keyless entry. The ruby red metallic paint looked incredible on the C -Max Energi SEL, adding just enough bling to a car that is all about making smarts. The C-MAX line also features the company’s innovative hands-free liftgate, which allows quick and easy access to the cargo area without ever needing to fumble for keys. A gentle kicking motion under the rear bumper opens the liftgate when used in combination with a key fob the user keeps in his or her pocket or purse that tells the car it’s okay to engage. The same motion can be used to close the liftgate.

INTERIOR

C-Max Energi provides customers with plenty of interior versatility and flexibility along with the urban maneuverability of a smaller vehicle. The sight lines in the 2013 Ford C-Max Energi SEL are as good as any car or truck we’ve tested, and that makes us feel like better drivers on the road. The C-Max line features a high roof design that gives each vehicle an overall height of 64 inches along with a higher command-style seat position instead of a cockpit type. It also features five-passenger seating that includes a split, fold-flat second-row seat. In C-Max Energi, there’s 43.4 cubic feet behind the first row and 19.2 cubic feet behind the second row, which we found somewhat limited.

Our test model was equipped with ambient lighting, dual zone climate control, in-floor storage in the rear of the car, black leather trimmed seats with a 10-way power driver’s seat, leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, premium audio and navigation package, hands-free technology package, rearview camera and automated parking system. The feel of the cabin materials were what you would expect in a luxury car, and the overall interior space was smart and stylish. Because of the multiple driving options regarding power source, the dashboard was easy to navigate and understand. There is a lot of Escape DNA in the interior of the 2013 Ford C-Max Energi, which adds some styling flair to this very cool ride.

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Car Review: 2014 Ford Fusion Energi SE

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Ford has been going gangbusters lately in both sales and market share, and much of that can be attributed to the Blue Oval’s relentless efforts to be one of the leaders in fuel efficient cars. The new and forward-thinking 2014 Ford Fusion Energi SE is just one of many vehicles that Ford is rolling out to keep the momentum going and the competition wondering what will be next. We were fortunate to drive this Fusion Energi for a week to really learn and appreciate how new technologies are moving the auto industry forward.

EXTERIOR

The exterior of the 2014 Ford Fusion Energi SE isn’t a whole lot different from the standard Fusion other than some badges. Our test model, however, looked very sharp with features such as 17-inch aluminum rims, auto halogen headlamps, easy fuel capless filler, fog lamps, integrated spotter mirrors, keyless entry key pad and power folding heated mirrors. The dark side paint was extra clean, and with the new, low front end and fastback rear, this Fusion was ready for action.

INTERIOR

The new cabin for the 2014 Ford Fusion Energi SE is something that can generally only be found in much more expensive cars, and that might have something to do with the big sales numbers coming in for this new Ford offering. Our test model was absolutely loaded with options, such as 10-way heated driver’s seat, leather seating all around, dual zone electric climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and Sirius satellite. The dashboard is unique with all of the electric and gas information in clear view to keep the driver up to date with the powertrain. With the large battery, trunk space is drastically reduced.

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Ford continues to push further

Alan Mulally and Steve Wozniak

We’ve seen many large companies, particularly automakers, rest on their laurels and become insular organizations. It’s easy to get into this rut when you measure profits in the billions and you have a huge bureaucracy.

But we’ve also seen how this attitude can lead to disaster, with the auto industry being just one example. Remember Atari? The flip side to measuring profits in the billions is measuring losses in the billions as well when things go wrong.

The culture at Ford seems very different today as the company tries to demonstrate each year in its Further with Ford conferences, where media members, bloggers and social media influencers from a wide variety of backgrounds are invited to hear from company officials, attend panel discussions from thought leaders, and of course get introduced to new Ford products and initiatives.

We were happy to attend the Further with Ford conference again this year, and CEO Alan Mulally kicked things off with an address on Monday night and was joined on stage by tech icon Steve Wozniak who would join the technology panel the next day.

Along with Chairman Bill Ford who spoke to us the next morning, Mulally has set the tone for the new Ford. The company is fiercely competing in the marketplace, while also trying to identify and adopt to trends in our fast-changing world that can impact their products on how consumers use them. Bill Ford repeated the example of car-sharing service ZipCar and how companies like that are challenging past assumptions about the auto market. Rather than ignore this development, Ford persuaded his skeptical executive team and decided to partner with ZipCar, which then ended up being an effective platform to promote Ford vehicles.

What’s most impressive about these conferences is Ford’s willingness to have real discussions with independent thought leaders who will speak their mind about the topics at hand. In one panel called “Returning to Your Senses,” the panel addressed how gadgets are infiltrating every waking moment of our lives. While Ford executive Gary Strumolo was touting new ways to interact with Ford vehicles to monitor health, MIT professor Sherry Turkle was explaining how our addition to devices was potentially harming our children, our relationships and our ability to have much needed moments of solitude. The resulting discussion was a very good one, but it showed that Ford was less interested in a scrubbed-over PR message as opposed to generating a real conversation. This willingness to address the ideas that challenge company priorities is critical to having a dynamic culture that will make a company thrive, as opposed to an insular culture where the executive team’s decisions are treated like dogma. By listening to concerns of thought leaders like Ms. Turkle, hopefully Ford can make better and informed decisions as they add more technology and interactivity to our vehicles.

The same dynamic was present in the technology panel. Ford unveiled a series of videos showing the Ford Evos concept car and how it might interact with a driver in the future. Some of the ideas were interesting, while others seemed to be trying to find a driver need or desire to fit a technology. The personalization features prompted a series of privacy questions and concerns from the media, and Steve Wozniak didn’t hesitate to emphasize that concern, pointing out that Ford and other large companies couldn’t just rely on acceptance of terms and conditions when someone starts using new features, because we always say yes in order to proceed. Instead, a real system that lets users know how their information is used with easy opt-out options for each feature is critical. That discussion probably wasn’t at the top of the Ford representative’s list as he wanted to focus on the cool new features, but again the panel was able to have a real discussion about privacy along with the technology.

The best panel by far covered design and included author Seth Godin, Jay Ward from Pixar, retailing entrepreneur Rachel Shechtman and Ford design chief J Mays. Godin touched on one of his favorite topics, as the concept of “normal” is fading away as society becomes more interconnected, making it easier for like-minded people to interact. With that in mind, companies who try to please everyone by aiming at the middle are having less success, while targeting groups who were once considered weird, or outside the mainstream, with excellent products can now lead to greater success. We’re seeing that thankfully in the auto industry as we’re seeing far fewer vehicles that seem to have been designed by committee. In trying to please everyone, you please no one.

Seth Godin

Another interesting story came from Jay Ward, who explained how Pixar approached one unnamed Detroit automaker about collaborating when Pixar was making “Cars” but was turned down. But J Mays and Ford gladly accepted the invitation. It may seem like an obvious decision now, but in old Detroit it’s not surprising that wouldn’t consider such a partnership.

Lastly, I got to drive some great cars as well and I’ll be following up with reports on each of them. The one that stands out was the Ford Fusion plug-in hybrid, which is just one example of Ford’s push into electric vehicles. In this hybrid Fusion, the braking system helps to recharge the battery, and each time you brake the dashboard will let you know how efficient you were in terms of transferring energy to the battery as a percentage all the way up to 100%.

Innovation requires a culture that is willing to challenge established beliefs. It can be difficult for large companies to develop and then maintain such a culture, but it appears Ford has found a formula that works.

Ford Fusion plug in hybrid

  

Ford is creating 100 Ford Fusion videos

Want a cool vacation instead of a crappy one?

Joel McHale, Ryan Seacrest and Kate Micucci are taking 100 all-new 2013 Ford Fusion to the awesome places all over the country and filming real people having amazing experiences. You can check this out by Visiting RandomActsofFusion where you can enter for a chance to win amazing prizes like trips to Ryan and Joel’s hometowns or 5-star vacation do-overs. Or sign up to see the all-new Fusion in your hometown. It has a completely new look that we think will be a hit.

  

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