Mindful motors: How Ford is embracing this modern meditation phenomenon

By Oliver Smith 6 September 2016
Sheryl Connelly, manager of global consumer trends and futuring at Ford.

Calm cars are the future.

Motor companies and mindfulness don’t seem like they should go together, but Ford wants to do something about that.

Mindfulness is one of Ford’s key trends of 2016.

“To describe something that’s been around for thousands of years as new is questionable, what we’re really calling out is how mindfulness has become very mainstream and is showing up in unexpected places,” Sheryl Connelly, Ford’s in-house futurist, told The Memo.

Read more: Why everybody is talking about mindfulness

But Connelly and the team at Ford are acutely aware of the boom in popularity taking place in the mindfulness movement.

Corporate giants like PwC, Ikea and Sony are adopting the modern meditation phenomenon, and its practitioners boast of their greater focus, efficiency and workplace performance.

Read more: 5 leaders in mindfulness

At the same time technology is becoming more pervasive, ever more ubiquitous in our lives.

“With all of this technology it makes it much harder for us to live in the moment, we’re constantly distracted and as a result our attention span is waning,” says Connelly, who produces Ford’s Trends Report each year.

2017 Ford Fusion Sport.

A car as a sanctuary of calm

For Ford, cars are stuck in the middle, viewed as both productivity hubs, and sanctuaries of calm and relaxation.

“We’ve started to adopt this notion inside the interior design team whose design DNA is the car as a sanctuary, as a peaceful and harmonising environment,” says Connelly.

“The beauty is that you can dial both sides of that up or down, it can be a place where you get everything done, or a place where you get lost in thought and contemplation.”

She points to Ford’s do not disturb button that is built into its latest vehicles “I often say it’s probably the most underutilised feature in our vehicles.”

One press and your Fiesta is transformed into an oasis of calm.

“The car is becoming a hub of productivity as people are kept constantly connected and this helps us manage our day, but it’s just as important to recognise that these platforms are also connecting us to things that disturb us, and for me personally, sometimes I need that car to be that sanctuary.”

Amen to that.