- Ford putting user’s manual on the on-board console
- It could be a sign of the times given our fondness of all-things-digital
- Automaker says the move will eliminate use of 290 tons of paper annually
Ford Motor Co. said it will be charting a new path for the automotive industry by scrapping the physical user’s manual for a digital on-board version.
The only physical information provided with the 2021 F-150, the Mustang Mach-E electric model and others will be a booklet that details critical information such as what to do if the vehicle loses power. The rest of the information, such as the meaning of a check-engine light, would be available on the vehicle’s touch-screen console, USA Today reported Monday.
“This is the start of a wave of everybody moving in this direction,” Craig Schmatz, chief program engineer of the F-150, said. “We’ll look back on the paper copies in a few years and wonder why we hadn’t moved to digital copies sooner.”
The actual user’s manual will still be available, but consumers would need to purchase one and Ford has yet to set a price.
USA Today estimates a typical user’s manual runs some 700 or so pages, while the new scaled-down version would be about 150 pages, saving Ford about 290 tons of paper annually.
Apart from the environmental benefits of the digital manual, it may say something about how we get our information in the current era.
“There’s so many things where it’s just easier to Google it and maybe watch a YouTube video of it than to try to actually go through the manual,” Dan Albert, author of “Are We There Yet?: The American Automobile Past, Present, and Driverless”, told the news service. “The reality is, we’re not reading the owner’s manual.”
Stephanie Brinley, an automotive analyst at research firm IHS Markit, said it makes sense to go digital, but cautioned against relying too much on technology.
“What if you don’t have power to your car, what if you don’t have power to your phone?” she was quoted as saying. “Those things do still happen.”
Ford is moving away from convention in other ways too. The Ford Transit, an electric version of its 15-seat cargo van, will be rolled out in electric form in Europe next year and start North American production in 2022.
While calling the paper-to-digital transition a trail-blazing move, Ford is not alone. Tesla already moved the paper version to its onboard infotainment console and car makers such as BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Hyundai and Kia are following suit.