When it comes to parallel parking, you’re on your own now.
Ford Motor Co. announced this week during the 2023 earnings call the automaker is reviewing what customers like and actually use to determine which features on vehicles may be excessive or unnecessary.
Say goodbye to the driver-assist parallel parking feature.
“Very, very few people are using it. So we can remove that feature. It’s about $60 per vehicle, another $10 million per year (in savings),” Kumar Galhotra, Ford chief operating officer, said Tuesday in an effort to illustrate how Ford is making little changes for big savings.
Ford studies consumer behavior with data provided by vehicles connected to its wireless network.
“Connected vehicle data here is very important because it helps us see what we’re providing, whether the customers are using it or not,” Galhotra said.
Will anybody notice?
For example, the 2024 Explorer offers the active park assist feature as an option for a one-time cost of $355, Ford spokesman Alan Hall told the Free Press on Thursday. But the 2025 Explorer will not have it available, he said.
The feature comes as an option for some vehicles and standard as part of a package on certain high-end versions, and no one will miss it, Ford dealers told the Free Press.
Here’s their reaction:
- “My kids use it when they’re driving my car. Most people my age and older can’t trust it. This has been an available option going back 10 or 12 years now. Each generation gets a little different. Sometimes it’s hold the button, take your hands off the wheel. Sometimes hold onto the wheel. There’s never been any consistency to it and nobody ever learned to trust it. This decision doesn’t hurt anything. Nobody is losing sleep over it,” said Chad Wilson, general manager of Wilson Ford in Saginaw and Midland Ford.
- “Hmm. I’ve never used it on any car I’ve had. I remember showing somebody how it worked one time. Honestly, I don’t think anybody’s going to notice. They have to do things to stay competitive … the tweaks they’re making, as long as Ford continues to build cars and trucks people want, I’m all about it,” said Jeff King, vice president and general manager at Bozard Ford Lincoln in St. Augustine, Florida.
- “If the public doesn’t utilize some of these features, we’ve got to find a way to get some of these prices down. We need to pass those savings along to the consumer,” said Thad Szott of Szott Auto Group, which sells Ford, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram and Toyota vehicles in White Lake, Highland Township, Holly, Waterford and New Hudson.
The Ford website says active park assist “helps take the anxiety out of parallel parking” and just requires drivers to shift, accelerate and brake while the system does the steering. The steering wheel moves back and forth on its own.
Ford explains the decision
“We are always evaluating our vehicles to make sure we’re giving customers more of what they love — and less of what they don’t,” Ford said in a statement issued after the earnings call. “Connected vehicle data, that our customers opt-in to share with us, helps us understand this and, after evaluating the data for Active Park Assist across our vehicle lines, we found the overwhelming majority of customers aren’t using Active Park Assist in the way it is currently offered. As a result, at this time we’re going to focus resources on developing and improving other features.”
‘A good place to start’
Analysts applauded the decision.
“Self parking, in many cases, is difficult to use. It’s not as simple as it shows up in commercials,” said Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting for AutoForecast Solutions, speaking from personal experience. “The setup is not as simple as turning on a turn signal or changing a radio station. It becomes more of a hassle to figure out how to use it than just pulling into a parking space. Very few people will miss the feature. It’s a good place to start. It’s low-hanging fruit.”
Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Cox Automotive, said parallel parking assist is not worth the $10 million that Ford will save with the cut. “I don’t think it’s a feature that many people are familiar with or opt for.”
But that’s not all
In addition to cutting parallel parking assist, Galhotra said Ford found millions more in savings by replacing a vehicle part that consumers rarely see.
“In one of our vehicle lines, we were using certain aero shields for fuel economy,” he said this week. “… The team came up with a different way of delivering the same aero and save $40 per vehicle. So that’s equivalent to about $10 million per year.”
Ford CEO Jim Farley said during the call that his team is committed to making more cuts in ways that don’t disrupt the customer experience.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Ford will cut driver-assist parallel parking feature in vehicles