As part of a campaign to help drivers learn more about how to optimize their fuel usage, Ford announced its Personalized Fuel-Efficiency App Challenge at last week’s New York International Auto Show. The app will address what Ford officials say is the number one concern among drivers. By creating a platform designed to share information through social media, Ford believes it can empower drivers to improve their personal fuel efficiency. Ford Chief Marketing Officer Jim Farley announced that the company is putting up $50,000 to encourage developers to come up with new ways for drivers to track and analyze their fuel-consumption habits. Developers must use Ford’s OpenXC open-source platform to qualify for the contest, which allows them to take advantage of a special OpenXC Google Group to ask for help when they hit a snag.
After announcing the app challenge, Mr. Farley was joined onstage by executives from Facebook and Google for a discussion moderated by Techonomy founder David Kirkpatrick. Doug Frisbee, Head of Automotive at Facebook, explained how cars will increasingly connect with our mobile devices to help analyze and optimize our behaviors and preferences, while Google Industry Director of Automotive Michelle Morris noted that the automotive industry is moving to focus more on specific consumer groups like women, millennials, and Hispanics. Ford’s Senior Technical Leader K. Venkatesh Prasad observed that the car is increasingly a platform on which “others can create and build solutions tailored to individual needs.” The panelists acknowledged that addressing those needs could make the car a vehicle for advertising as much as a vehicle for getting around.