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Automakers Finding Many Customers Now Appreciate Simplicity

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2014 Ford Escape (credit: Ford Motor Company)

2014 Ford Escape (credit: Ford Motor Company)

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  autos arrows plug v2 Automakers Finding Many Customers Now Appreciate Simplicity

DEARBORN, MI (WWJ)  After years of putting more and more features on computer screens, car companies are finding out that customers like to “keep it simple.”

Ford says it will soon start adding old fashioned buttons and knobs to its audio systems. This comes as the company takes a closer look at some of the customer complaints involving “MyFord Touch.” The word comes out just a few days before we’re likely to hear more criticism of the system, as J.D. Power releases its annual Initial Quality Study of new cars and trucks.

“We are committed to listening to our customers and improving MyFord Touch to keep drawing in new customers and increasing satisfaction with even higher quality,” says Raj Nair, Ford’s group vice president, global product development.

Ford has already mixed traditional buttons and knobs with computer screens in its F-series pickups. It plans to phase that systems in to other models as they are redesigned.

Nair stands by MyFord Touch as a system that gives buyers a reason to choose Ford products. Ford says 79 percent of buyers opt for the system, double the rate of Honda and Toyota buyers.

Ford cites an internal study that says more than half of Escape buyers cite MyFord Touch as a reason they purchased that particular vehicle.

“Ford has launched 60 new technologies the past few years and they are helping attract many new customers in important markets such as the coasts,” says Nair. “SYNC and MyFord Touch are key parts of our innovation strategy, and not only bring more new customers to our brand, but help deliver higher satisfaction with overall vehicle quality.”

Most major car companies now have systems that connect customers’ smart phones with their vehicles. The industry has been struggling with ways to make the systems simple to use, and to minimize distractions in vehicles, instead of adding new ones.

The connectivity systems continue to grow in popularity. Ford’s updated Fiesta small car now has MyFord Touch available, as well as other options like navigation systems and leather seats, things that had previously been unheard of in subcompacts.

Written by Jeff Gilbert. Connect with Jeff at jdgilbert@cbs.comfacebook.com/carchronicles and @jefferygilbert.

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