Ford To Add Over-The-Air Updates In 2020: How Will They Work?

  • Next year, Ford expects to introduce over-the-air updates for new cars.
  • Software updates are designed to run “in the background” and be seamless.
  • Ford says OTA technology will be more convenient in the long run for owners.

Starting next year, Ford will equip most of their newly-redesigned vehicles in the United States to receive, handle, and install over-the-air updates. Sometimes called OTA technology, Ford says it will make it easier for customers to receive necessary quality and capability updates to improve vehicle performance, as well as reduce dealership visits.

“Nobody wants to feel like they’re missing out on great features right after spending their hard-earned money on a new vehicle – that’s where our over-the-air updates can help,” explained Don Butler, Executive Director, Connected Vehicle and Services, Ford Motor Company. “We can now help improve your vehicle’s capability, quality, and overall driving experience while you’re sleeping.”

When Will Ford’s Over-The-Air Updates Arrive?

Ford expects to deliver its first updates about six months after launching the first vehicles with the capability in 2020. The updates may even go unnoticed by some, as the platform allows them to be installed in the background. Said platform keeps current programs running until the new version is ready for activation. Ford says they want the updates to be as seamless as possible.

“Computer updates that require reboots seem to come at the most inconvenient times, which is why we wanted to make our updates as invisible to customers as possible,” Butler said.

According to a recent Forbes report, special precautions were taken to ensure Ford’s OTA technology is safe and secure. “We have protection and encryption for the delivery pipe itself,” Butler told the publication.

Ford To Add Over-The-Air Updates In 2020.
Starting next year, Ford will equip most of their newly-redesigned vehicles in the United States to receive, handle, and install over-the-air updates.

How Do Ford’s Over-The-Air Updates Work?

Owners select a time they are not driving the vehicle, like in the middle of the night for example. When owners come out in the morning, the updates have already been performed and the vehicle is ready to be driven. While Ford says some updates do require the vehicle to be parked and shut off, others can be activated in under two minutes.

Owners receive notifications when updates are available, and can have them applied automatically over Wi-Fi or cellular connections. In-vehicle alerts tell what updates were installed the next time they jump in the vehicle.

Many updates will be virtually invisible to customers via the cloud-connected and vehicle software platform. Ford plans to introduce its OTA technology in 2020. Photo: Ford Motor Company.

What Over-The-Air Updates Are Not

Over-the-air updates are not a substitute for routine maintenance. Basic maintenance, like changing the oil and fluids, and rotating the tires is still the best way to get the most life out of any car. While convenient, OTA technology will not help if a vehicle needs things like new brakes and suspension components. Always have any vehicle, regardless of how new it is, inspected by a trusted mechanic each time you take it in for an oil change.

The Car Care Council offers a wealth of free information through a series of informative videos. The non-profit organization educates motorists about the importance of regular vehicle care and maintenance. We recommend the the council’s free Car Care Guide, which has helped over three millions motorists. The guide is available electronically or in print, and in English and Spanish.

The Automoblog staff covers automotive industry news, trends, and technology along with new vehicle releases. Automoblog is owned and operated by Gearhead Media LLC., based in Detroit, Michigan and Berlin, Germany. 

Photos & Source: Ford Motor Company.

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