Contest: Ford Puts up $50K for Apps That Track Fuel Economy

Ford wants Apps that track MPG

The PR wizards at Ford have announced a $50,000 contest wherein developers are invited to create a smartphone app that can tap into a car’s ECU data and track MPG.

Give the Ford PR crew credit where it’s due: not only is $50K a lot less than what it might cost Ford to develop such an app in-house, but it’s also announcing the contest hot on the heels of Automatic announcing its own app/accessory MPG tracking system, guaranteeing that at lease one company will participate/win/keep the feel-good PR machine rolling Ford’s way.

Clever.

The contest, which launches this summer, focuses on using ECU data to create apps that help improve and/or track fuel efficiency. According to Facebook’s Global Head of Automotive Doug Frisbie, “fuel economy matters more to consumers than the car’s price by a factor of 10” (according to Mashable). Frisbie and joined Ford VP of Global Marketing, Jim Farley, Jr., on stage for panel discussion to talk about the broader possibilities of tracking automotive data using smartphones.

Farley and Frisbie’s vision is to have all of a consumers’ screens – their smartphone, their PC, their tablet, and their cars’ infotainment system – finally work together to create a seamless customer experience, where a Google search for directions (the example given) that was begun on a phone walking to the car would be completed in the car, without the need to re-enter information. The execs involved are quoted as saying that “there is good reason to do this”, but I’m not sure I agree.

Not that anyone asked me, but the future of car-buyers are the millenials and “Gen Y” crowd, like it or not. A lot of them aren’t buying cars at all, and the ones that are buying cars are choosing simple, fun, screen-less transportation like the Scion TC, which boasts the youngest average car-buyer age in the business. This push by Ford, then, has the same stink of Grandma that those “GI Jim” dolls had when you unwrapped them on Christmas morning, you know?

You know.

Good luck, then, all you intrepid developers – and have fun spending Ford’s money!

 

Source: Ford, via Mashable.

 

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.