Innovation is not always as sporadic and spontaneous in the automotive industry as it is in other areas of technology. New apps pop up on a daily basis, and it seems like everyone on the planet is making an Alexa skill these days. However, we’ve been hearing about autonomous driving and connected cars for years. That’s why it’s important to keep tabs on the new tech features available in cars — eventually, they add up to a big leap in the right direction.
Recently, I tested out the 2017 Lincoln Continental. Yes, this is the car shown in the commercials with Matthew McConaughey on a lake acting like Mr. Cool (and then sitting in the backseat). The full-size sedan costs $44,720 in the base model and has a speedy turbocharged engine running up to 400 horsepower at the highest trim level. But as usual, I gravitate to the innovations in sensors, adaptive tech, and mobile apps.
A new app called The Lincoln Way for iOS and Android has a few interesting features. I won’t say they represent a giant leap, but they show how cars are connecting more to the world around us and taking advantage of ubiquitous connections. The app lets you find a parking spot and check for the price and exact location. When you find a spot, you can then reserve and pay for it (although I wasn’t able to test that feature as I’m not close to downtown parking). When you park, you can set a reminder to find your location again and keep tabs on how long you’ve parked.
Next, the app lets you do a live chat with an agent. Again, I can see where this is going. You can ask basic questions about the app and find information about service and sales. I asked the rep about scheduling service through the app, and he cleared that up quickly — you can’t. However, I was impressed by how fast the app found an agent, and there weren’t any delay in his responses.
My favorite feature has to do locking and unlocking. Again, it’s not ground-breaking because many other cars let you do this from an app. What impressed me, though, is that it worked quickly, and the app doesn’t have a lot of extra clutter to confuse you (or marketing material that tries to convince you that you need to buy another Lincoln.) The app has a simple, straightforward design without a lot of bells and whistle that might get in the way.
I’d like to see the concierge service expand — the way it works now is if you call the dealer, you can arrange to have Lincoln come out with a loaner car and make a swap so you can get regular service or a repair, all without ever driving to the shop. I wish that was something I could arrange through the app or a chat, although I can see where a human agent might want to talk through logistics. (The agent who helped me with the app said Lincoln will be adding delivery and pickup to the app soon.)
Overall, the app does accomplish its main goals — getting you connected to an agent for questions, helping you find a parking spot, and locking or unlocking the car. These conveniences are what you’d expect in a luxury car, and they show promise.