Thursday, December 3, 2020

Ford wants US$150 for a map update, Tesla really did change the game with free OTA updates

Ford wants US$150 for a map update, Tesla really did change the game with free OTA updates

Tesla Model 3 owner Glenn Fischbach also owns a 2017 Ford Focus Electric and today shared a very stark contrast in how updates are delivered between the two automakers.

Fischbach received a letter from Ford alerting him to the fact that his 3 year old vehicle was ‘Due for a Map Update! In 2020, most services are delivered over the internet, including software updates. From your phone, to your gaming console and your desktop operating system, updates are delivered for free for the life of the device.

Being a Tesla owner, Fischbach is very familiar with this also being the experience in his Model 3, however the other vehicle in his garage has a very different experience.

In the detailed letter, Ford explains the 2017 Ford Focus (electric) is due for a Sync 3 Navigation Map Update. The letter continues to detail the advantages of the update.

Improve your driving experience with optimized route recommendations, real-time traffic updates, and advice on local points of interest. Did you see that new coffee shop on the way to work? We’ll show you.

Stay safe and informed with the latest road construction updates, one-way street changes, and new speed limit restrictions. Be prepared for that 45-mph zone near the grocery store that was just reduced to 35mph.

Save time and money thanks to fewer lost miles and less wasted gas looking for your destination, so you can spend more time enjoying the journey.

So the update sounds like something you definitely want, so how does Glenn get the update? Well here’s where things get ugly.

Ford wants owners like Glenn to schedule an appointment with their nearest Ford Dealership and take his car in to have the software update applied.

In 2020, it’s pretty unacceptable and incredibly inconvenient (especially in the middle of a pandemic) to require a physical appointment.

There is another option for customers wanting this map update, that’s to have a pre-loaded USB shipped to them directly. Presumably owners can handle plugging in a drive, accepting a couple of prompts on the display and waiting for it to update, this isn’t something that requires Ford expertise.

Not only do you have to request this, then wait for this drive to be delivered to you, but Ford wants to charge you US$149.00 (A$204.03) for the privilege. Obviously, that’s ridiculous in today’s context when software updates are delivered for free. I’d really love to hear Ford try to justify this price tag.

Obviously, there’s some work involved in updating Maps, but that gets amortised across the entire Sync 3 fleet, of which there are millions of cars. The actual USB drive is dirt cheap, with a 32GB USB drive costing just A$6.19 from Office Works. Even the time taken to copy the software to a USB drive and get that shipped out could in no way justify the price tag.

Later in the Model 3 Facebook group post, Glenn confirmed he has no intention of paying for the update, which I’d expect goes for every other 2017 Focus Electric owner.

Compared to the free, over-the-air updates delivered by Tesla, this is a night and day experience between the automakers. As Ford prepares to begin customer deliveries of their second and most import EV program, the Mach-E, I really hope they’ve had a severe rethink on OTA updates because this certainly won’t fly.

I had a software update in my Model 3 yesterday. For those unfamiliar with how simple things can be, let me detail the Tesla way. A notification is sent to your phone, via the Tesla app. This alerts you that an update is available. If your car is connected to WiFi (like it is in your garage), you simply tap to install the update now. Around 25 minutes later you’re notified the installation is complete and when you next enter your car, the release notes are presented on the display.

Tesla do an excellent job at making this regularly (usually monthly) update process, simple, free and convenient.

Comparing the two experiences here shows how Tesla changed consumer expectations in what’s possible and then quickly after, what’s expected in a modern vehicle.

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