NEW YORK Automaker Ford has unveiled what it bills as its first “interactive brand experience studio,” known as the FordHub. Launched on January 31 and located in the Westfield World Trade Center, FordHub offers consumers interactions with digital and physical experiences meant to help them explore the brand in new ways, as well as to tout Ford’s innovations aimed at addressing mobility challenges in global cities. Rather than a traditional limited-time pop-up, Ford plans an indefinite continuation of the experience.
Included in the FordHub are immersive experiences such as the “Light Wheels” exhibit, an interactive LED display featuring more than 5,000 Ford toy cars, from 1969 Mustangs to new F-150s, illuminated with color and movement patterns. Through the “Last Mile Challenge,” visitors can race on a wobbling board through a futuristic world, checking out transportation from autonomous cars to e-bikes. In the ”Move Freely” exhibit, visitors can interact with a transportation system installation, at which marbles move throughout a visually interesting display meant to provoke curiosity and encourage guests to linger. “Mustang Over Manhattan” provides a 3-D virtual-reality experience for guests to feel as if they are building a Mustang on top of the Empire State Building, while friends watching the build come together on a digital screen. And in the “Innovation Challenge,” guests are encouraged to come up with innovations to help solve New York’s specific transportation challenges.
The experience is free for consumers; in fact, Ford does not offer anything for sale at the site. That said, consumers who leave interested in buying a car can download the model they’ve configured in the space, and bring a digital record with them to a dealership.
Ford bills the experience as a new way to encourage both imagination and dialogue. To help, so-called “FordGuides”—experts on both the space and the brand’s vehicles—are stationed throughout to answer questions.
“Our first FordHub is a place designed to spark questions and curiosity,” said Elena Ford, Ford vice president of global dealer and consumer experience, in a statement. “This isn’t a store or a dealer—it’s a place for participation and creativity. We want people to have fun while engaging in conversation about the future of transportation.”
Ford global advanced customer experience manager Andrew Birkic added: “As we expand our business to be both an auto and mobility company, we are engaging with new consumers and want to establish new ways of connecting with people who may not be familiar with Ford, particularly in urban settings. Traditional points of entry for consumers would be our Ford dealerships; this gives our brand a new way to connect with key growth audiences, even those who don’t even own a vehicle.”
He said the brand elected the venue for its “location that could draw fresh faces to Ford’s story. The Westfield World Trade Center is already an urban hub of mobility, with more than 300,000 consumers passing through daily. This location will allow us to expose commuters, tourists, and visitors to Ford’s latest innovations and engage with them as we work on the future of mobility.”