Daytripping Dad, Mike, had another great time at Ford headquarters last month for the 2013 Ford Trends Conference in Dearborn, Michigan. This year was better than over, beginning with opening night held at the Henry Ford auto museum, where there is the ultimate history of the automobile on display, from the earliest buggies, to the first year Prius hybrid, to trucks, trains and everything in between. Highlights include the bus that Rosa Parks made history with and the chair that President Lincoln was sitting in at the time he was shot. The Ford CEO, Alan Mulally spoke during the dinner to discuss many of the initiatives that Ford is pursuing currently. These include more hybrids, better fuel economy and making safer, reliable, and more relevant transportation.
The second day of the conference included several breakout sessions with experts from various fields speaking on topics of their expertise. One of Mike’s favorites was the Ford Tech trends session featuring Steve Wozniak. Woz loves technology and is really excited out how much electronics are being incorporated into today’s vehicles. He wants the trend to continue of electronics knowing what we want or would like to have before we ask for it. The move towards driverless cars is a huge one and Woz definitely sees this as the future of the automobile.
Another interesting topic was the Greentopia panel. Experts were on hand from WWF, Coke and the University of Michigan to discuss the direction of consumer’s drive for green products. Ford is no exception in the move toward sourcing more sustainable and recycled resources to use in their manufacturing. Ford’s commitment to sustainability goes back to Henry Ford’s innovative use of soybeans. Did you know that old U.S. paper currency retired from service and shredded is being tested for potential use in select Ford components for some vehicles?
During the last day, Mike got to spend some time on the Ford test track trying out vehicles like the new Ford Fiesta sport model and the Fusion “Energi” hybrid. Mike raced for the fasted time in the Fiesta. He came in the top ten, but not enough to win. The Fusion “Energi” was his first time driving a hybrid. It’s a full size vehicle and extremely comfortable. It also captures energy from braking and uses that for additional power for the vehicle. It’s a pretty amazing new car.
Mike then drove with Jason Bailey, Mr. RockinMama.net and took a tour through architectural highlights in Detroit, while driving a 2014 Ford Escape and using FordSync to navigate around. They made some stops like at the Detroit Institute of Art, which features work by Van Gogh and Diego Rivera. They also visited some of the urban ruins, like the famous Michigan Central Train station.
It was a dream come true for Mike to actually get to visit the urban ruins around Detroit. It’s a unique American experience. It is sad, inspiring, fascinating and living history all at once. Ford is America.
*I was invited by Ford for the Trends Conference. Compensation was limited to travel and lodging expenses. All opinions are my own.