Technology milestone: Ford produces 10th million vehicle with Sync image

The maker this month produced its 10 millionth vehicle equipped with the Sync infotainment system. That’s just six years after Ford first rolled out the technology developed in cooperation with tech giant Microsoft.

And yes, depending upon your point of view about in-car technology, the announcement from Ford could be seen as good news or bad news – or perhaps a little bit of both.

“SYNC has helped us to think and act more like a technology company,” said Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president of global marketing, sales and service. “It has forever changed how we look at our business and how we respond to our customers.”

Since its introduction, Sync has fostered some major changes in the auto industry and there’s not a brand to be found today that isn’t offering at least a basic in-car infotainment system. But while Ford claims Sync – and the MyFordTouch and MyLincolnTouch infotainment systems – have drawn plenty of young, tech-savvy buyers into the brand’s showrooms, the technology has also created plenty of headaches for owners and for Ford which has seen its quality ratings tumble, in large parts due to problems with its infotainment systems.

In the annual Consumer Reports automotive reliability survey released a month ago, full 17% of owners reported having problems with the technology on the Detroit maker’s C-Max model, the plug-in version of that people-mover coming in dead last among all models in the CR owners’ survey.

But Ford is not the only maker running into trouble with this new technology. Two out of every three problems reported by the 83,000 owners and lessees who participated in J.D. Power and Associates 2013 Initial Quality Survey were tech-based. While that includes such electro-mechanical devices as electronic suspensions and cruise-control systems, the bulk of the complaints involved systems like the FordMyTouch.

For their part, Ford officials acknowledge they’ve been facing trouble but insist they have been making significant progress, reducing by as much as two-thirds the number of complaints over the last year with updates – both software and hardware – to the company’s infotainment technology.