Ford CTO Paul Mascarenas talks about the convergence of... Ford CTO Paul Mascarenas talks about the convergence of Silicon Valley and Detroit.
The recent unveiling of the revamped Ford Fusion wasn't just a big deal to Ford because of the car. It was also a big deal because of the technology inside the car.

Paul Mascarenas, the chief technology officer at Ford, recently sat down with our sister site TechCrunch and talked about some of the updates on the Fusion in specific and, more generally, the bridging of Silicon Valley connectivity with Detroit's automotive offerings.

Mascarenas has been with Ford for 30 years, most prominently in product development positions, and served in his current position since January 2011. Here's five things that stood out from his interview with TechCrunch:

Q: It's interesting that the CTO has played such a key role in launching the Fusion. Tell us about the car.

A: There's a really strong story around fuel economy and other technologies that we've put in the vehicle. Whether it's connectivity, Sync with Microsoft, some of the driver assistance and active safety technologies and so on.

Q: What sort of fuel economy offerings are available on the new Fusion?

A: We actually offer five different engine choices, including high-efficiency gasoline, EcoBoost, a conventional hybrid and a plug-in hybrid vehicle. Fuel economy on the hybrid is 47 in the city and 47 on the highway for a combined 47 miles per gallon in that vehicle. And the plug-in hybrid that will be launching in a couple of months actually does get 100 miles per gallon equivalent.

(Editor's note: The base 2013 Fusion is rated 22 city/34 highway by the EPA).

Q: How do you compete with start-ups that focus solely on electric vehicles?

A: Exciting. Fisker, Tesla and Coda Motors have done so much to promote awareness around electrification and electric vehicle technology. Our approach is slightly different. We're obviously into much higher volume, into larger segments and more affordable vehicles. One of our key strategies, whether it's the Focus, which we offer as full electric, or the Fusion hybrid or plug-in hybrid, is using economies of scale. ... The Fusion hybrid, for example, starts at about $27,000. It's very affordable, very efficient.

Q: Ford sells cars around the globe. How do you cater these new technologies to consumer interest in individual markets?

A: It's almost a convergence. This is almost universal, in any market, any segment in the world, and people are looking for the same thing: High-quality vehicles, reliable, dependable. They're looking for vehicles that are safe, not only in terms of crash worthiness or protection, but increasingly, the driver-assistance technology, features on the Focus and Fusion like lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, collision warning, adaptive cruise control.

And here's where this convergence between electronics and the vehicle comes. There's an expectation now that a customer, or a driver or passenger, will be able to enjoy a very seamless experience, whether listening to music or internet radio, news radio. Sync lets you bring your mobile device into the vehicle, seamlessly connect via Bluetooth, and use voice commands to interact with the device.

Q: Do you get pushback from customers who note that you are partners with Microsoft and not Apple?

A: We've been partners with Microsoft for many years now. We first launched Sync in 2007 and it's in 4 million vehicles. The strength of the Microsoft platform is it's device agnostic. You can bring in any device and connect. ... It's a very powerful system.

Q: Is the technology behind the cars becoming greener in any way?

A: When you think of the vehicle, it covers everything from the type of materials we build the vehicle from – plastics, alloys, light-weight steels. And recycling is another area we're doing a lot of work on.

There's a strong story on the Fusion. All of our North American vehicles – and the Fusion is no exception – are including soy-based foams in the seats, displacing petroleum-based foam. We used some recycled denim jeans in the Fusion hybrid, the seat fabric material uses recycled plastic bottles.

Paul Mascarenas on the New Ford Fusion

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