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DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. plans to revert to more traditional knobs and buttons in its MyFord Touch infotainment and control system.
The system has hurt Ford's ratings in several quality surveys. Customers have complained the system is bulky, distracting and overly complicated to use. Ford has issued several software upgrades.
Ford hinted at its plan to change MyFord Touch today in a press release touting improvements in the system's quality.
Ford's F-series pickup models already include the latest MyFord Touch system with more redundant knobs and buttons.
"A similar balance" is "planned for future Ford vehicles," the release said.
The automaker revealed its plans just days before J.D. Power's annual Initial Quality Study, which reviews new-car quality, is set to be released.
In 2010, the automaker ranked No. 5 and was the highest-ranked nonluxury brand in the study.
After MyFord Touch was launched in 2010, Ford dropped to below average, ranking 23 out of 32 in 2011 and 27 out of 34 last year.
Consumer Reports magazine also criticized MyFord Touch last year for not having traditional knobs or buttons and instead using flush buttons, a touch screen, steering-wheel controls and voice commands to control navigation, climate and entertainment.
Ford updated the system last spring to simplify the screen layout, fix bugs and improve voice recognition. Another upgrade for MyFord Touch and Sync is planned for this summer, according to the release.
Ford said Sync and MyFord Touch are sold on 79 percent of its 2013 vehicles. The automaker says that is double the sales mix of infotainment systems in Honda and Toyota vehicles and up from 68 percent for Ford in 2012.
"The satisfaction is higher on vehicles equipped with MyFord Touch than without," Raj Nair, Ford's global product development chief, said in an interview published today in The Wall Street Journal. "We've been able to spend a lot of time with customers to find what exactly are the areas that are bothering them."
Customers have complained that performing simple acts such as changing radio channels becomes needlessly complex.
Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of the Americas, signaled the changes were coming last month in an interview with Automotive News.
Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood said the automaker has been talking about adding more buttons and knobs along with the touch screen features for some time and that some vehicles, such as the F series models, already include the knobs and buttons.
"Our strategy is we are going to offer a better blend of touch screen capability with buttons and knobs," Sherwood said.