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商业 - 汽车

全新触屏系统拉低福特质量排名

Alex Taylor III 2011年06月30日

福特今年推出了MyFord Touch触屏系统,将移动电话、PDA和数字媒体播放器等功能整合到汽车中,驾驶员可通过语音指令、触屏输入或传统的按键开关方式进行操作。然而这一创新容易分散驾驶人员的注意力,增加车祸风险,导致福特的安全性排名大跌。

    时下导致车祸的最大原因并非是酒后驾驶,而是驾驶员注意力分散,也就是说驾驶员的脑子或眼睛并没有紧盯着路况,或者手离开了方向盘。随着汽车的操控变得越来越复杂,加上驾驶员们总爱在驾驶时摆弄手机等设备,这个问题也变得越来越严峻。据美国国家公路交通安全管理局(National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)和弗吉尼亚科技运输学院 (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute )2008年联合公布的一项研究显示,80%的车祸都与驾驶员某种形式的分心难逃干系;而那些险些发生车祸的“惊魂一刻”,也有65%都与驾驶员某种形式的分心有关。

    福特(Ford)今年推出了全新的MyFord Touch触屏系统,朝着减少驾驶员分心的方向上迈出了一大步。MyFord系统可以将移动电话、电子记事簿(PDA)和数字媒体播放器等功能整合到汽车中,驾驶员可通过语音指令、触屏输入或传统的按键开关三者中的任一方式来进行操作。

    几个月前我亲自测试了MyFord Touch系统,结果总体上还不错。尽管我是个对科技接受的比较慢的人,但我发现,在接受了半个小时的讲解后,我已经可以顺畅操作了。方向盘上的多媒体控制键要比一般德国车上的多功能方向盘更加直观。声控系统经过了升级,可对10,000个单词做出反应,效果好得惊人。我本人对触屏并没有太大好感,因为我觉得触屏普遍反应迟钝,在驾驶过程中很难激活。不过福特的触屏系统比起我测试过的克莱斯勒(Chrysler)的几款新车要快一些,应答性也略胜一筹。

    不过我的体验并不具有代表性。福特现在正在遭受汽车买主、经销商、第三方评估者和媒体的口诛笔伐。福特发现,当领头羊的代价,就是人人都可以踢你的屁股。

    对MyFord Touch的报怨早在今年一月就出现了。一位车主向他的三位朋友评价他的福特福克斯(Focus)轿车时说道:“这款触屏系统太差劲了,偶尔才能连接到我的蓝牙手机上,在驾驶时偶尔还会重新启动,而且有时甚至不肯提供电台预设。有时开机几分钟后系统会突然白屏,过一会儿又恢复了界面。有时右前方的喇叭会突然冒出某个电台的广播节目,声音大得都失真了,不论怎么拼命按钮都无济于事。屏幕上明明显示的是“最小音量”,但喇叭还是以90分贝的音量咆哮着,耳膜都快被它震破了。幸好只有这一个喇叭出了问题。”

    目前最有代表性的批评来自《消费者报告》杂志(Consumers Reports),这家杂志是目前最有影响力的第三方汽车评估者。今年一月,《消费者报告》的一名评测者写道,他认为“系统非常容易上手,我用了很短的时间就学会了,甚至都不用打开那本厚厚的用户手册。”不过他也补充道:“人们对该系统的看法并不一致。”

    后来该杂志又发布了正式的评测报告,这份报告对MyFord Touch的评价有所下降。

    “福特原本只对系统进行简单调整就可以了,但它却采用了三四种不同的方法。然而这些方法的任何一种都不如老式的旋钮和按键好用,而且它们操作起来也比较费时,还会令司机分心。首次使用者可能根本无法理解该系统。”

    根据汽车市场调查机构J.D. Power 的“新车质量调查”(Initial Quality Survey)的反馈,一些购车已超过90天的福特车主也有相同的报怨。据上周四公布的调查结果显示,福特在各大汽车品牌中的质量排名已从第5名下跌至第23名。导致这个结果的一个重要原因就是饱受诟病的MyFord Touch。

    J.D. Power的副总裁戴夫•萨金特对《底特律新闻报》(Detroit News)表示:“如果不是MyFord Touch的缘故,福特的排名也不会下降这么多。福特公司决意要成为车载多媒体互联领域的领军者。如果真成了成了领军者,这诚然是好事,但这也使你处在了一个易受抨击的地位。”

    福特公司一直以其产品质量排名作为一个关键的卖点,因此该排名的下降令福特深感苦恼。福特连续五年都没有下过“新车质量调查”的行业平均线。另一搭载了MyFord Touch系统的汽车品牌林肯(Lincoln)的处境也并不比福特好多少。它的质量排名从2010年的第8位下跌到了今年的第17位。福特正在反复与经销商和顾客会面,以更多地了解他们的抱怨。福特希望最早在今年秋天推出MyFord Touch的2.0版。

    与此同时,福特显然并没有放缓创新的脚步。本周早些时候,福特向一些新闻记者展示了该公司的一系列新创意。其中包括一些能够自动避免事故的设备,这些设备通过使用wi-fi无线网络信号,让驾驶员知道附近其他车辆的位置,还可以侦测到转弯处有无来车,以提醒驾驶员进行避让,避免车祸。除此之外,还有一些设备可用于检测驾驶员的健康水平,其中包括用于检查驾驶员的紧张程度的心率监测仪,以及为糖尿病患者准备的血糖监测仪等。

    前进永不止步。不过就像福特的教训一样,有时必须慢慢来。

    译者:朴成奎

    More than drunk driving, the biggest single cause of car accidents today is driver distraction: taking your mind or eyes off the road, or your hands off the wheel. As the controls of cars become more complex and drivers continue to manipulate accessory appliances like cell phones while they are moving, the problem is only getting worse. According to a 2008 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, 80% of crashes and 65% of near-crashes involve some form of driver distraction

    Ford (F, Fortune 500) took a giant step towards mitigating driver distraction this year when it introduced its MyFord Touch system of driver controls. MyFord enables drivers to integrate mobile phones, PDAs, and digital media players into their cars, and operate them using any one of three different systems: voice commands, touch-screen inputs, or conventional switches.

    I tested MyFord Touch a few months ago with generally good results. While I am a slow technology adapter, I found that I could operate it well enough after a half-hour instruction. The steering wheel controls are more intuitive than the dials I've found on German cars, and the voice command system, upgraded to accept 10,000 words, also worked surprisingly well. I'm not a fan of touch screens, finding them insensitive and hard to activate while driving. Ford's system, though, worked faster and more responsively than others I have tried on new Chrysler cars.

    My experience has not been typical, however, and Ford is getting roasted by owners, dealers, third-party evaluators, and the media. The price of leadership, it is finding, is that everybody gets to kick you from behind.

    Complaints started showing up as early as January. One owner reported the following in demonstrating his Ford Focus to three friends: "Too bad about the touchscreen, I say, which only occasionally will connect to my Bluetooth phone, occasionally reboots while driving, and sometimes doesn't bother to offer radio presets. A few minutes later, the screen goes blank and then comes back up. And out of the front-right speaker suddenly comes some radio station's broadcast so loud it's distorted. No amount of button-pressing will stop it. The display clearly shows 'Minimum Volume,' and yet the speaker crackles on with 90 decibels of eardrum-piercing sturm und drang. Luckily, it was just the one speaker."

    The most prominent critic has been Consumers Reports, by far the most influential third-party automotive evaluator. Early reports were encouraging. A CR driver reported in January that he "found the system easy enough to learn on the fly that I didn't have to break out the weighty owner's manual," but he added that "the jury is still out."

    When the magazine weighed in with its formal evaluation later on, however, it lowered the boom.

    "It all adds up to three or four ways to make what should be simple adjustments. None of the options works as well or is as easy to use as old-fashioned knobs and switches, and they can be more time-consuming and distracting to operate. First-time users might find it impossible to comprehend."

    Those complaints were echoed by owners who responded to J.D. Power's Initial Quality Survey after 90 days of ownership. In results released Thursday, Ford fell from 5th to 23rd in the quality ranking of major brands. MyFord Touch was a big reason why.

    "If it wasn't for MyFord Touch, we wouldn't be talking about Ford," said Dave Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power, told the Detroit News, "They made the decision to be a leader in this area" of onboard connectivity, he said. "If you're the leader, that's great, but you're also in a somewhat vulnerable position."

    Ford, which has made its product quality ranking a key selling point, is chagrined. The automaker hasn't finished below the industry average in the survey for five years. Lincoln, which also offers MyFord Touch, didn't fare much better. It dropped from 8th place in 2010 to 17th this year. Ford has been meeting repeatedly with dealers and customers to learn more about their complaints. It hopes to roll out a version 2.0 as early as this fall.

    Meanwhile, Ford apparently isn't slowing the pace of innovation. Earlier this week, it showed new journalists a portfolio of new ideas. Some are accident-avoidance devices that use wi-fi signals to let drivers know where other cars are and to see around corners to give drivers a warning about an impending collision. Others check on a driver's health with a heart-rate monitor to measure his stress level and a blood-sugar monitor for diabetics.

    Progress can't be stopped but, as Ford is learning, sometimes you have to slow it down.

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