DETROIT – Ford Motor plans to expand its hands-free highway driving system to the automaker’s luxury Lincoln brand beginning next year with the 2022 Navigator SUV.
The system allows for hands-free driving on more than 130,000 miles of dedicated highways in North America. It controls the vehicle’s speed and steering, while also monitoring the driver’s attentiveness through an infrared camera system.
The technology will be called ActiveGlide for Lincoln instead of BlueCruise, which is being used for the Ford brand, according to the company.
Ford’s systems are similar to General Motors’ Super Cruise technology and would also compete against Tesla’s Autopilot, which federal safety officials on Monday launched a formal investigation into due to reported crashes.
No vehicle being sold today is fully self-driving. All driver-assist systems still require drivers to pay attention.
Lincoln’s ActiveGlide will be standard on the top two trims of the Navigator. The company declined to release pricing for the 2022 models. The average price paid for the SUV this year is about $92,000, officials said.
The addition of ActiveGlide is part of a host of updates for Lincoln’s flagship SUV for the 2022 model year. Other changes include interior and exterior design tweaks, over-the-air updates and built-in Amazon Alexa voice assistant. It’s also adding two new interior options for its high-end Black Label model.
“Navigator is our flagship for Lincoln. It is the ultimate expression of who the brand is,” Laura Clark, Navigator brand manager, told CNBC during an interview. “We are really extremely proud of this vehicle.”
The Navigator SUV, which was last fully redesigned in 2018, is an extremely important vehicle for Lincoln. It brings in younger, more affluent buyers and is responsible for about 33% of the brand’s conquest customers, according to Clark.
Navigator sales are up 33% through July compared to that timeframe a year earlier. The company sold 15,252 Navigator SUVs in 2020. By comparison, GM last year sold 24,547 Cadillac Escalades – Navigator’s main competitor.