First-Ever "OTA" Software Update Debuts for the Mustang Mach-E
The first-ever “over-the-air” (OTA) software update for Ford’s exciting Mustang Mach-E crossover all-electric vehicle began its roll-out on March 18th. Ford tells us the update included bug fixes and minor refinements. Nothing too earth-shattering. The update rolled out to all Mach-E cars over a three-week period and occurred in the background while owners were driving their vehicles.
A Look at the History of "Over the Air" Vehicle Software Updates
Ford Motor Company has been at the forefront of automotive technology since the invention of the moving assembly line in 1913. In 2010, Ford rolled out its MyFordTouch in-car communications and entertainment system in a joint venture with Microsoft Corporation using Microsoft Auto 4.0 software. It was known as the next generation of Ford Sync and included voice recognition and Bluetooth pairing. Back then, software updates were mailed out to consumers.
Tesla was first to use “over the air” software upgrades for its Model S in 2012. In addition to minor code changes, the upgrade tweaked the car’s range calculator to lower its estimated driving range by 35 miles. The typical download time was two hours via Wi-Fi. Mercedes-Benz and BMW Group followed suit, offering software updates for select models. The BMW System 7 update last year was the largest download to date, delivering enhancements and new functions for over 75,000 vehicles worldwide to update maps and navigation, eDrive Zones, Personal Assistant, Android Auto and other features.
How Do the Mustang Mach-E's "Over the Air" Software Updates Work?
According to Ford, the new Mustang Mach-E handles its software updates seamlessly. Through the Ford Connected Cloud Service, the latest software updates are sent right to your car via the onboard modem or Wi-Fi. These automatic updates are defaulted to the “on” position when you take delivery of your vehicle. Ford says the OTA technology allows for the fastest and easiest way for updates to be delivered.
Some updates, such as this first OTA, will actually happen in the background while you’re driving and you won’t even notice. Non-drivable updates will require that the Mach-E be turned off for a certain period of time. If you’re driving along and the car tells you that it requires a non-drivable update, it will postpone updating until you are finished driving. You’ll see an “Update Unsuccessful” icon on the touchscreen and you can tap the icon for update details.
When you restart your Mustang after an update, you’ll notice a “Software Install Successful” icon on the touchscreen. For those who want to turn the automatic updates “off”, all software updates can also be handled when you take your Mach-E in for service at your Ford dealer.
Are There Any New Ford Software Updates on the Way?
This autumn, the Mach-E and Ford F-150 Lightning will receive software updates that include Amazon Alexa compatibility thanks to a six-year partnership with Amazon that includes Alexa features for commercial vehicles. Toward the end of this year, Ford plans a software update that will add its long-awaited BlueCruise driver-assist system.
According to the automaker, BlueCruise can control the Mach-E’s steering, acceleration, and braking on certain designated stretches of highway, under the driver’s supervision. Ford has its own in-house cybersecurity department that monitors all software updates for security risks and privacy law compliance.
As mentioned above, automatic software updates are nothing new to EVs. Tesla has been updating its electric cars with over the air updates for years, including everything from adding more range, to the latest video games. Still, Ford’s first OTA update rolled out with no problems, effecting all of its Mach-E cars. Ford tells us more exciting updates will be coming.