Ford will include its driver-assistance software, BlueCruise, on several 2024 models by default.
The car manufacturer announced the new plan on Monday, August 14. Previously, customers were required to opt-in for BlueCruise at checkout. The service provides Level 2 self-driving capabilities, which include elements such as adaptive cruise control and hands-free driving in certain conditions. Going forward, the Mustang Mach-e, the F-150 Lightning, the F-150, the Ford Expedition, the Lincoln Navigator, the Lincoln Nautilus and certain Lincoln Corsair trims will come pre-installed with the driver-assistance software. However, car buyers will still need to pay for the feature using one of several methods; pay $2,100 for three years at the time of purchase; use a 90-day trial; or pay $800 yearly or $75 monthly after purchase. The $2,100 payment can be included in the vehicle’s financing.
Driver-assistance software has seen increasing popularity over the last few years, with automakers such as Tesla seeing vehicle autonomy as a crucial component of their long-term success. Although reception from customers and regulators has been mixed due to safety concerns, Ashley Lambrix, head of commercial acceleration at Ford Model-e, called BlueCruise “an experience-it-to-believe-it technology.” While car manufacturers stand to make significant income from software packages and other services, the high price of features like hands-free driving often makes a premium-market exclusive, limiting the potential earnings. Ford may be attempting to address this issue with its new model. “We believe in this technology and how it can help transform the highway driving experience and want to give more customers the opportunity to try it and provide flexibility for them to activate it when they want to use it,” stated Lambrix..
However, while the move pushes driver-assistance software toward the mainstream, the updated pay scheme is only slightly different from its predecessor. Although eligible Lincoln vehicles will now include four years of the service for free, Ford still requires payment plans for a majority of its BlueCruise-enabled models. Car buyers must decide at checkout whether they will use financing to pay for the feature or rely on the 90-day trial and subsequent annual or month-to-month payment plans. As such, there remains a considerable cost for car buyers looking for hands-free capabilities.