FORDLiive and Ford Telematics Essentials aim to reduce van breakdowns

  • On-board connectivity and dedicated centres to maximise uptime for small businesses and large fleets
  • Claims to make servicing more efficient, spot faults before they leave you stranded
  • Goal is to improve dealer performance and solve problems faster, making Ford vans more reliable

The FORDLiive ‘connected uptime system’ for Ford vans and pickups is being expanded with the introduction of Ford Telematics Essentials for fleets. FORDLiive is a terrible name but a clever idea. We’ll try and explain how it can help you, whether you’re a large firm or a single-van business.

‘Uptime’ in case you haven’t come across it before, is an industry term that basically refers to whenever a van is working properly. The opposite to this ‘downtime’, which includes not only unscheduled breakdowns but also scheduled servicing. The more time wasted on these things can be reduced, the better the van is doing its job.

FORDLiive is an effort to make the most of the on-board connectivity technology already fitted as standard to most of the Ford commercial vehicle range since mid-2019 in order to achieve just such a reduction.

Ford’s ultimate ambition is ‘100% operating uptime’ – hard to imagine, but perhaps we do now have the technology.

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How does FORDLiive work?

According to Ford: ‘FORDLiive promises to transform the way Ford customers run and maintain their vehicles, by reducing the number of breakdowns, enabling fewer time-consuming visits to dealer workshops, and achieving quicker servicing and repair times.’

It aims to do this by providing a better connection between customer, Transit Centre and Ford itself. It’s available free-of-charge, and Ford says it could reduce vehicle downtime by up to 60%.

Ford Telematics Essentials

The starting point is a Smart Maintenance system, but FORDLiive also includes Ford Service Pro to improve the effectiveness of its commercial vehicle servicing network, and three new FORDLiive Centres.

The first of these is already up and running – covering the UK and Ireland, the first market to get FORDLiive.

What is Ford Smart Maintenance?

Every Ford Transit, Transit Custom, Transit Connect, Ranger and Fiesta Van sold since mid-2019 has come with the FordPass Connect modem fitted as standard – that’s around 500,000 vehicles already – and this is able to provide real-time vehicle health data.

The Smart Maintenance part is two-fold. Firstly, it uses the data from each individual vehicle to enable servicing to be scheduled ‘at the most efficient time’; secondly, it provides notifications about potential problems that if acted upon ‘could help prevent a breakdown.’

If you’re a small business with up to five vans, notifications will come via the FordPass Pro smartphone app. For larger fleets, the new Ford Telematics Essentials system will do the job.

The notifications about faults are made using plain English rather than jargon, taking the guesswork out of dashboard lights and warning messages.

Alerts about any recalls will also come through these systems.

What is Ford Service Pro?

This aims to give customers a better experience at the Transit Centre (of which there are 110 in the UK) by again taking advantage of the connect capability of the latest Ford commercial vehicles.

Dealers will have access to the last 60 days of vehicle data via a Smart Diagnostics system. This should enable faster problem solving and – something that will be music to many customers’ ears – proactive pre-ordering of parts that might be required to fix the vehicle.

Other advantages include giving dealers the ability to ‘bundle’ multiple upcoming tasks together in order to provide a more efficient service, and enabling them to know what kind of courtesy vehicle a customer might require in order to actually keep their business going – should a long period of downtime for their own van be unavoidable.

Other tech boosts coming include a trial of virtual reality headsets that will allow remote experts to better diagnose particularly tricky problems. Volkswagen already uses a similar ‘augmented reality’ process.

Where do the FORDLiive Centres come in?

‘Staffed by dedicated experts’ the FORDLiive Centres are being brought in to identify and quickly respond to ‘emerging issues’.

Using new ‘UptimePro’ software, they have access to ‘live data’ from the Transit Centres tracking every repair. This allows them to see if things are being dealt with efficiently, and spot cases where the same vehicle is making multiple dealer visits.

The FORDLiive Centre can also support the dealer with ‘in-depth technical support from engineers or accelerated parts supply to fix a customer’s vehicle.’

This should certainly be more than just talk for the UK and Ireland, as this region’s FORDLiive Centre is based at the Ford Dunton Campus, home to the Ford Transit engineering team. It is apparently ‘already closing cases’.

What’s different about Ford Telematics Essentials?

Ford Telematics Essentials is aimed at large fleets, and available via an ‘easy-to-use web-based interface’. It does all the same things but on a larger scale, allowing fleet managers to better organise the running, servicing and maintenance of their Ford vehicles.

Ford Telematics Essentials web display example

As well as tracking how many of each type of connected Ford vehicle are in the fleet and notifying you when there specific issues, it can also display the real-time status of each one, divided between five options:

  • > Up to Date
  • > Action Soon
  • > Action Now
  • > Overdue
  • > Off the Road

Servicing can be scheduled directly from the system, and there are more than 4,000 Vehicle Health Alerts – with descriptions – to help fleet managers and service centres quickly understand what’s going on with a particular vehicle.

You can even opt to share the past 60 days’ worth of vehicle health information with your Transit Service dealer. This will in theory not only help them to diagnose issues more quickly but have the parts ready and waiting when the vehicle arrives.

More complex issues will be assisted by the FORDLiive centres, which should mean your van gets back on the road more quickly.

Will all this really make a difference?

Ford believes so. In fact, it’s so confident in the remote diagnostics capability now available via FordPass Connect that it is waiving the requirement for a 30-minute annual inspection on newly-built compatible vehicles.

For the Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid, this applies to every example built since 28 January 2021, while regular Transit, Transit Custom and Tourneo Custom models get the same exemption when built from 28 June 2021, with Rangers joining them when built after 30 August 2021.

Ford reckons FORDLiive is already capable of delivering a reduction in downtime of up to 60% for fleet customers, and is standing by that 100% target for the future.

How much does FORDLiive cost?

Absolutely nothing – both FORDLiive and Ford Telematics Essentials are just part of the Ford commercial vehicle package now.

You will need a Ford van or pickup with the FordPass Connect modem. And to install the FordPass Pro smartphone app or activate the web portal for Ford Telematics Essentials – but this is also free.

Ford’s created the following explainer video about how FORDLiive works, if you need further information:

Also read:

>> Ford van reviews on Parkers

>> Augmented reality to help VW fix vans faster

>> 2023 Ford Transit Custom – first official details