Recently I was invited, along with many other bloggers and journalists, to Dearborn, Michigan to attend Ford’s Annual Trend Conference.
On the first day one of the conference we were greeted by wonderful Ford employees, who shuttled us to the hotel for registration, lunch and the opportunity to visit The Henry Ford Museum before the grand opening ceremony at Ford Field. Once we arrived at Ford Field, which has great natural skylight– unlike most other fields, we mingled, had dinner and listened to Bill Ford (the great grandson of Henry Ford and the current executive chairman of Ford Motor Company) speak about the past and future endeavors of the Ford Motor Company.
On the second day we attended four workshops focusing on specific trends: Streamline and Simplify, Age of Accessible Design, Eco-Psychology and URBANIZATION. Each workshop had a panel or a leader in the field on hand to discuss the trends and how they impact the automobile industry.
One really cool thing about the conference was with all the information being given, we barely talked about the cars themselves. It was more about technology and how Ford is continuously improving its brand.
Fun Fact: In the last 10 years Ford has cut its water, power and CO2 emission by 50%. Every Ford vehicle is 85% recyclable. That’s impressive.
In the Eco-Psychology Session, the panel including HBO’s Entourage star Adrian Grenier, Independent film producer Peter Glatzer, Liz Heller and Tim Sexton explored the psychology (and solutions) behind the next ‘green’ movement and how consumer preferences and choices will shape what it really means to be eco-friendly. You can check out Adrian’s latest eco project at Shft.com
Being the “semi-girly girl” that I am, my favorite Trend Session was: Design, of course! I got to meet fashion designer and Project Runway Winner Christian Siriano.
I never considered how detailed the process of designing a car can get. Everything from textiles to fabrics right down to the thread count. There’s even an entire team dedicated to product wear and tear.
According to Marcia Salzverg, senior color material designer, there are approximately 30 color choices for the exterior of the vehicles that get submitted and narrowed down to ten. Team members are allowed to submit photos and articles to support their color submissions. Ford tends to keep its color choices gender friendly, but Marcia told us that Ford would explore more color choices in the future– but don’t look for any neon pinks.
Another cool insider tip that was shared at the Trend Conference was that a robot is used to replicate the action of getting in and out of a vehicles to test how various things such as blue jeans wear on the seats.
Hey and just in case you are thinking about becoming a supplier for Ford, you should know that Ford needs for you to show your waste production plan according to Salzverg. Meaning, if you dye fabric where does that waste water go? Ford needs to know! #ecofriendly
Ford is really pushing for more user -friendly, in car communications and entertainment. Ford wants you to be able to talk to your vehicle and have it talk back. Ford knows and accepts that people will be texting and emailing while behind the wheel. And Ford’s goal is to minimize the distractions while driving.
Day three- BRING ON THE CARS!! After learning about the design, innovation, and eco-friendly aspects of Ford we finally got behind the wheel of some of Ford’s 2013 vehicles. We were given access to Ford’s proving grounds where we were allowed three hours of fun as we drove the Ford Police Interceptor, Ford Mustang, Ford Escape, and the Ford Focus Electric. The updated Ford Mustang was my favorite with it’s powerful V-8 engine! To appreciate the performance of the vehicles, Ford set up various testing track areas to highlight its vehicles– and we were encouraged to push it. We negotiated sharp turns, bumpy roads and off road action. It was such an adrenaline rush! The vehicles performed and handled well, I was very impressed. I felt safe, comfortable and I looked great inside of the 2013 Ford Mustang.
The police interceptor was a great ride as well, but I think the stand out experience was the 2013 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. This monstrous truck, was nothing short of amazing! The speed, the handling and the climbing ability this truck had it all. One extremely cool feature of the Raptor was Hill Descent. If you have ever driven up an extreme incline then eventually you get to a point where you can only see sky, so the front view camera display assist you with that. My driver Josh (we were passengers on this little excursion for safety reasons) used Hill Descent to brake and throttle independent of what he was doing! So, basically the TRUCK, drove us down the hill. All I could think about was how amazing technology was.
I appreciated the invitation from the Ford Motor Company to participate in this years Annual Ford Trend Conference. Ford impressed me with their commitment to quality, innovation, and dedication to the environment. I can’t wait to Go Further with Ford next year.