It’s probably fair to say Tesla is the pioneer when it comes to over-the-air updates in the automotive industry. The electric vehicle manufacturer has been offering wireless updates for its products for years and this is one of the reasons why the Model S remains largely unchanged in terms of design despite becoming more and more capable with every single update.
Ford seems to be taking a very similar route with its first all-electric mass-production crossover, the Mustang Mach-E. Of course, the EV is just entering its market launch phase but the Blue oval automaker is already considering OTA updates as a possible tool to expand the model’s lifecycle. And not only.
"It gives us that optionality. I think we now have the ability to make the vehicle physically better for the customer with these OTA updates, and that's something that's game-changing in terms of the business model," Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's chief product platform and operations officer, told Automotive News in a recent interview.
During the interview, Thai-Tang admitted that mid-cycle facelifts - a common practice in the industry - are sometimes just a "fashion statement" with minor cosmetic tweaks keeping the product relatively fresh for a few more years until the next-generation model arrives. With more and more Ford vehicles expected to gain the OTA updates functionality - including the new F-150, the company could eventually move to longer lifecycles for its new models.
One of the big advantages of the OTA updates is the fact that a vehicle can be improved shortly after its delivery without physical contact with a mechanic or a dealer. That’s exactly what Ford plans to do with the Mustang Mach-E with an optional hands-free driver-assist system coming as a wireless update roughly six months after the EVs launch.