Ford opens FordHub experience center in N.Y. mall – The Detroit News
New York — As it focuses on providing mobility solutions and not just building and selling cars, Ford Motor Co. is looking to connect with consumers in different ways.
The Dearborn automaker in late January opened an interactive brand-experience center it calls FordHub. It’s located in the busy Westfield World Trade Center shopping mall here. Ford doesn’t sell any cars at FordHub. In fact, there’s no sheet metal in the 2,900-square-foot space aside from 5,412 die-cast Ford vehicles that adorn the walls.
In a little over two months, 40,000 people have come through the FordHub doors across from Sephora and Under Armour storefronts.
FordHub is all about educating people about Ford and emerging mobility options, said Elena A. Ford, Ford’s vice president of global dealer and consumer experience. The site averages 600 visitors a day, about half commuters and half tourists, she said.
“New York is one of our biggest markets, and secondly we chose to do it in the Westfield World Trade Center, because the World Trade Center is the transportation hub of the world,” Elena Ford said.
The location sees traffic of 300,000 people a day, she said.
There’s a board game in which visitors can learn about bikes, mobility and energy usage. There’s a virtual-reality experience in which people assemble a Mustang; the last piece, the pony car’s emblem, creates the illusion of nearly stepping off the Empire State Building to finish the task.
Upon entry, people are given a Hub card where their experiences and reactions are recorded. When people get home, they can log onto fordpass.com/hubs and retrieve their experiences — something 14,000 people have done so far.
Should someone want to know more about Ford’s vehicles, there is a configurator in the studio and leads can be sent to dealers globally.
“There’s a lot of things in here that are related to cars in a very subtle way. We are a car company, that’s what we do, that’s our core business and we love that business,” Elena Ford said. “But we want to showcase how we can make mobility fun.”
Some automakers have opened similar experience centers. Ford’s Lincoln Motor Co. last year opened a center in Newport Beach, California, where consumers can browse Lincoln vehicles and learn more about the brand. General Motors Co.’s luxury brand Cadillac has opened Cadillac House on the bottom floor of its offices in New York City. That space serves as a public coffee house and event space where it displays Cadillac vehicles.
Ford is planning to open another hub in the future in San Francisco.
Rebecca Lindland, executive analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said FordHub is appealing to kids with fun activities and could help Ford change people’s thinking about the company.
“It may help them to look at the brand as a mobility-solution brand as opposed to just a traditional carmaker and be able to fulfill a couple of different needs, not just get them a car,” she said.
Lindland expects to see other automakers look into opening such centers as they “are all trying to reimagine themselves.”
“They’re all trying to be providers of solutions for a consumer and also to engage people in the industry in a different way,” Lindland said.