And today we’re announcing GoPark which is a new pilot program to make parking in cities easier and importantly less stressful for drivers. GoPark is a predictive parking system that can actually direct customers to a place where they’re most likely to find an open parking spot and a group of residents from the borough of Islington in the UK have volunteered to take part in the pilot. And with their permission we are equipping their vehicles with plug-in devices to collect data as they come and go from parking spaces in a defined area and by observing patterns and then combining that data with available city data and traffic and parking conditions, we’ll be able actually to predict available parking spots based on the time of day and location.
And the best part? Well, GoPark is open to everyone and you don’t have to be a Ford owner to participate in this.
Now let’s turn to autonomous vehicles, a subject of much discussion in our industry lately. And at Ford, we’ve been focused on autonomous vehicles for more than a decade and this year we’ll have the largest autonomous test fleet among all automakers. We have vehicles on the road today in Michigan and Arizona and we begin testing this year in California and we will be expanding even further in the future.
Now Ford’s autonomous vehicle program goal is delivering the Society of Automotive Engineers’ level 4 capability which is full autonomy in defined environments. This is the level that many of the technology companies are going for and this takes the driver completely out of the loop, which ultimately leads to level 5 which, is full autonomy in any location in any weather condition. And when the first Ford autonomous vehicle comes out it will be an autonomous vehicle designed to serve millions of customers, not just for those who buy luxury vehicles.
At the same time we’re also absolutely committed to serving millions of customers today with automated technology that can assist them in becoming better drivers. We already are a leader with semi autonomous and driver assist technologies. So on our vehicles today you can steer into a parallel or perpendicular parking spot, you can remain in your lane by alerting you or providing steering assistance, maintain a set speed and distance between vehicles on the highway, even in stop-and-go traffic and apply brakes if a collision is imminent.
And today we’re happy to announce that during the next five years we’re tripling our engineering investment in driver assist and semi autonomous vehicle technology and accelerating development and availability for our customers. This includes some new features like Traffic Jam Assist and Fully Active Park Assist. Traffic Jam Assist can relieve driver stress and enhance comfort by helping control of the acceleration, the braking and the steering during slow moving and stop-and-go traffic.
Fully Active Parking Assist will help drivers automatically pull into a parking spot by controlling the steering, the shifting and braking at the touch of a button. And we’ll introduce both of these features and more during the next three years. And again as we do this we promise that these technologies will be available on our highest volume products, delivering on our commitment as a company to serve millions of people and not just for those who can buy luxury vehicles.
So let’s turn to Data and Analytics, another important area. One of the ways that we’re learning about what customers will want and need in future mobility is by working actually with game developers. Last August we launched the Ford Smart Mobility Game Challenge at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany. We encouraged developers to create fun and engaging games that tackle the challenge of integrating different transport modes within a city. And we’ve been literally overwhelmed by the ideas that have come in and we’ll announce the winner here at the Mobile World Congress later this week.
Now as we make this transition to an auto and mobility company, there’s another very important part of our strategy and that’s about transforming the customer experience. This is influencing every part of our business from our core business of cars, SUVs and trucks to emerging opportunities and all of our Ford Smart Mobility work. And the opportunity here is literally huge.
Now traditionally we’ve dedicated most of our energy and for that matter of money to attracting new customers about a year before they actually buy a vehicle. And then we pretty much don’t engage them until their next purchase.
Well that’s about to change. Think about this: The average Ford owner spends about 900 hours a year inside of his or her car yet in that same year they spend on average only four and a half hours in our dealerships or interacting with our brand. And we absolutely know we need to engage customers differently going forward.
So during the past 18 months we’ve had a small group working secretly with customers and actually studying other companies that have transformed their customer experience focus. Companies like Nespresso and the clubs they create, or Rip Curl with wearables to actually recreate the surfing experience, and Nike with its digital ecosystem. We’ve also been working with anthropologists and sociologists and digital experts studying what consumers want even before they can express it. And the result is FordPass. Take a look.