Ford bets on Google Cloud for its digital transformation

Google and Ford today announced a new partnership around bringing Android Automotive to Ford’s Ford and Lincoln-branded cars, starting in 2023. But at the same time, the two companies also announced that Ford has chosen Google Cloud as its preferred cloud provider.

“With Google Cloud, Ford will digitally transform from the front office to the car to the manufacturing plant floor,” Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian said in a press conference today. “And there are a number of different applications, including modernizing product development, improving manufacturing and supply chain management, using computer vision AI for employee training, inspection of equipment on the assembly line and other applications.”

Kurian also noted that Google and Ford are working to find new ways to monetize Ford’s data through features like maintenance requests and trade-in alerts.

“At Ford, we’ve got world-class in-house data insights and analytics teams,” David McClelland, Ford’s VP for strategy and partnerships, said. “We’ve recruited significant software expertise and we’re making great progress in this area. And we’re moving rapidly towards commercializing our new self-driving business. And with this news that Thomas [Kurian] and I are announcing today, we’re turbocharging all of that.”

McClelland stressed that Google “brought the entire company to the table for us across cloud, Android, Maps and much more.” It’s maybe also no surprise, given Google’s expertise in this area, that Ford is looking to leverage Google Cloud’s AI tools as well. This work will go beyond the actual driving experience, too, and include work on modernizing Ford’s product development, manufacturing and supply chain, as well as predictive maintenance in Ford’s plants.

Like other car manufacturers, Ford is also looking to find ways to use the data it collects to create a connection to its drivers that goes beyond the buying experience and (maybe) the occasional maintenance visit to a dealership. For this to work, it needs to be able to understand its customers and offer personalized experiences.

Today’s announcement marks a bit of a turnaround for Ford, which had previously banded together with a group of other car manufacturers with the explicit goal of keeping Google’s role in the automotive industry to a minimum. Now, only a few years later, the two are coming together in one of the deeper partnerships in the industry.

It’s also worth mentioning that not too long ago, Ford had a deep partnership with Microsoft, which provided the basis of Ford’s Sync technology.

“From the first moving assembly line to the latest driver-assist technology, Ford has set the pace of innovation for the automotive industry for nearly 120 years,” said Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet. “We’re proud to partner to apply the best of Google’s AI, data analytics, compute and cloud
platforms to help transform Ford’s business and build automotive technologies that keep people safe and connected on the road.”