What Ford's Partnership With Google Means

Ford on Tuesday announced a partnership with Google to bring Android software into its cars, a change from an earlier deal when it choose to work with Microsoft on its connected SYNC car services. The automaker says it will no longer support SYNC.

Future Ford and Lincoln vehicles will offer Android-powered infotainment systems with Google apps like Google Maps built into the user interface for the navigation system.

Google will be the voice assistant platform and apps in Google Play will become available, allowing users to choose from audiobooks, podcasts, and music.

Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai mentioned the partnership with Ford on the company’s Q4 2020 earnings call Tuesday, noting that Ford is using Google Cloud, Android and other Google apps and services.



“Ford is a great example of, I'd say, thinking longer term -- not just for Cloud but Android auto-powering their vehicles,” Pichai said.

Analysts at the Australian-based firm Compare the Market released data last month that found Ford is the most searched-for auto brand in the United States, based on data from Google Trends.

While there is no way to determine how search volume has impacted sales for the company based on Google Trends data, Statista released data in January that compared Q4 2019 with Q4 2020, showing that the number of Ford-built vehicles sold to customers throughout the U.S. fell from roughly 599,000 units to around 539,000 units.

Anecdotally, from talking with staff at dealerships, I can say that production at plants fell based on the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and plant closures, while used car sales rose in 2020. The pandemic left dealerships, especially those in the midwest, nearly empty of used cars.

In the U.S., Ford took the top spot for the most-searched-for automotive brands in 2018, followed by BMW in 2019, and Ford in 2020. The top five most-searched auto brands in the U.S. last year were Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Jeep, and Honda.

Brands are missing from the analysis, despite millions of searches. Porsche, for example, had around 50.5 million searches in 2020, but it was not the most searched for brand in any country analyzed in Google Trends.

The research also shows that Google Trends does not recognize Tesla as an automotive brand. Analysts at Compare the Market reached out to Google via Twitter for clarity on why, but have not received a response.

Rather than automotive brand, Tesla fell into the category of Hybrid & Alternative Vehicles.

In 2020, Tesla had a global search volume of 81,479,800. The search term was most popular in Norway. This number is still lower than Toyota, which returned a global search volume 88,194,500 in 2020.

The data also showed Porsche did not dominate any countries when it came to searches. Compare that to the Market analysts said the data does not mean that Porsche was not searched for in 2020. In fact the term “Porsche” received around 50.5 million searches in 2020.

The data does indicates Porsche was not the most searched-for brand in any country that Compare the Market analysts analyzed in Google Trends.

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