Ford has a new technology called MyKey which is a safety device aimed at teenage drivers. When the car is turned on by a specific MyKey (give to a teenage driver), the car behaves differently. It will debut as standard equipment on the 2010 Ford Focus coupe and will works its way into other Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles. Here are some of the features of MyKey:
- limit top speed of vehicle to 80 miles per hour
- sound a chime whenever the vehicle travels above 45, 55 or 65 miles per hour
- cap the volume on the car stereo
- mute the radio and chime repeatedly until the driver is buckled up
- light up low-fuel warning earlier than normal
My take: I’m not sure if this particular feature will sell more cars, especially given the economy, but it represents an excellent example of the first principle of Experience-Based Differentiation: “Obsess about customer needs, not product features.”
What’s so good about MyKey? Ford thought about the needs of a specific segment of customers (parents of teenagers) — beyond the usual automotive features like style, speed, price, and fuel economy. By looking at a more comprehensive set of needs, the car maker was able to identify novel features that appeal to that segment.
The bottom line: Digital features require durable manufacturers to know more about customers.