We bet General Motors is thrilled to hear this.
The auto industry is no longer solely defined by vehicles but also advanced new technologies, including driver-assist systems. Developing and rolling out autonomous driving tech is an extremely complicated process and there's little to no room for error. Ford is well aware of this and despite market pressure to do so, it's decided to delay the over-the-air rollout of its new BlueCruise hands-free highway driver-assist system until early next year. The original plan was to get it up and running by the end of 2021.
Ford CEO Jim Farley confirmed the new launch schedule to CNBC, stating the company wanted to simplify the technology. No precise details were given.
Ford first announced the Level 2 self-driving assist system earlier this year following successful nationwide testing. At launch, it will be available in two models only, the F-150 and Mustang Mach-E. Additional vehicles will be added over time. Not long after the tech and its name was revealed, General Motors sued Ford, claiming BlueCruise was too similar in name to its own driver-assist tech, Super Cruise.
Ford acted quickly by requesting the US Patent and Trademark Office to rescind GM's "Cruise" and "Super Cruise" trademarks. Basically, Ford said no one has the exclusive right to the word "Cruise." GM ultimately dropped its suit early last month.
It's hard to tell at this time how many Mach-E and F-150 buyers will opt for the system, which will be included in a $3,200 option package for the base model Mach-E. It's standard in all other trims. We don't know how it'll be packaged in the F-150 just yet. But Ford expects a far greater number of Mach-Es, around 80 percent, will have BlueCruise. In comparison, just 15 percent of F-150s are likely to have it. Truck buyers, in general, tend to be more traditional whereas Mach-E customers are so-called early adopters.
GM's Super Cruise, like Tesla's Autopilot, are also both Level 2-rated systems. But unlike Autopilot, Super Cruise is not under federal investigation over alleged safety issues. Ford can't afford to be in Tesla's position regarding this matter. Delaying the rollout, therefore, is probably for the best.