Paul A. Mascarenas

Paul A. Mascarenas
VP and CTO, Research and Advanced Engineering
Ford Motor Company

Last Updated: 03/07/2014

Executive Summary

Mascarenas is Vice President and Chief Technical Officer, Research and Advanced Engineering, for the Ford Motor Company. In this role, he leads Ford's worldwide research organization, based in Dearborn, Michigan, and Aachen, Germany. The Research & Advanced Engineering staff of scientists, engineers, and technicians is dedicated to supporting Ford as a world leader in providing safe, sustainable, emotive, and affordable mobility through innovation in science and technology. As head of the advanced engineering group, Mascarenas also oversees the planning, development, and implementation of Ford's top global technology objectives. Prior to assuming his current role in January 2011, Mascarenas was VP of Engineering for Global Product Development. He was responsible for all engineering for car, truck, SUV, and crossover vehicles for the Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury brands. He also helped lead the development and implementation of the Ford Brand DNA. Since 2002, Mascarenas has played a lead role in the design, development, and launch of key North America products, including the Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKT, Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossovers, and the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans. Prior to moving to Dearborn in 2002, Mascarenas was the Vehicle Line Director for midsize cars and MPVs in Europe and was previously Chief Program Engineer of the Ford Mondeo, the Ford brand's flagship sedan in Europe, Asia, and South America. Mascarenas joined Ford in 1982. Through the course of assignments in Germany, the U.K., and the U.S., he has amassed extensive experience in product development, having held positions in product planning, program management, body engineering, and powertrain. He was appointed a company VP in January 2005.

Personal Attributes and Interests

  • Mascarenas is married with two daughters. They live in the Greater Detroit area.
  • His first car was a 1972 Mini Cooper.
  • He lived and worked for five years in Cologne, Germany.
  • Mascarenas considers the fun part of his job to be getting the first drive of a prototype vehicle.
  • He owns a 2012 Boss Mustang, Laguna Seca edition and follows the Mustang Club of America.
  • Mascarenas is a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and was elected an SAE Fellow in 2009.
  • He served as General Chairperson for the 2010 SAE World Congress and chaired the 2010 SAE Convergence event.
  • He is interested in the Chelsea Football Club, the Detroit Red Wings and the PGA Tour.

Current Focus

  • Switch to QNX: Having launched Sync 2, the latest version of its in-car “infotainment” system, Ford Motor is set to replace Sync’s underlying Microsoft operating system with BlackBerry’s QNX alternative, according to reports in February 2014. The move will only take effect in 2016 and, according to reports, Microsoft’s licensing costs as well as a desire for a speedier, more flexible solution, were the main reasons for the move.
  • Benefits of Connected Cars: Mascarenas said smart car technology and connectivity is changing his company’s thinking when it comes to customer experience. "Why shouldn’t a car be connected?" he asks. "It is the ultimate mobile device." He said there is less emphasis on technology and more on the customer experience. “What we see is more and more advanced features, driver assistance technologies that make cars smarter and our drivers better – and safer. Our goal is to make those features available and affordable to millions of customers around the world.”
  • Filling in the Blanks: While other manufacturers have had some catching up to do with their smart cars, “Ford seems to be focusing on filling in the blanks,” CNET reported in January 2014. “At this year's International CES the company knocked out a few more, rolling out Sync AppLink capability to 3.4 million cars - though sadly the service, which allows smartphone apps to talk directly to the car, still isn't compatible with the latest MyFord Touch-equipped vehicles. This update also enhances AppLink functionality on newer cars, allowing smartphone apps to read key data from the car, things like speed and fuel consumption. This will, in theory, greatly extend the functionality of these apps and Ford hopes this, plus a coder-focused conference this summer, will woo more app developers to support the company's cars. By extension, they'd be supporting the nascent Smart Device Link API, which the Blue Oval has positioned as an industry standard.”
  • Solar-Powered Concept Car: Ford in January 2014 unveiled a new solar-powered concept car, a Mustang “bristling with driver-assist technology and some usability improvements and apps for its Sync infotainment system, according to Forbes. The C-MAX Solar Energi Concept car is a plug-in hybrid with photovoltaic panels on its roof that, when parked under the solar concentrator lens Ford had on display, can fully charge the battery in one day. The normal C-MAX has a range of 620 miles but Ford says it can go 21 miles on sunshine alone, which is probably more than enough range for the average trip. Ford worked with engineers at Georgia Tech to come up with the idea of the concentrator canopy and an on-board computer system that moves the car a few inches at a time to follow the sun so it always has the maximum charge going. Ford also showed off a new cherry-red Mustang with driver-assistance, forward collision warning, and has a performance boost to help with your acceleration. The Mustang will also be Ford’s first production model in North America to feature an enhanced new version of Ford’s SYNC AppLink, which lets drivers and passengers talk to the car to control popular iPhone and Android apps such as NPR, Spotify and TuneIn. Once the Mustang rolls out, Ford will make the new version of AppLink available to owners of Ford models going back to 2010. This will increase the number of vehicles on the road with AppLink from one million to 3.4 million. Ford also announced five new apps (60 are already available) including music app Habu, parking apps Parkopedia and ParkMobile, and Domino’s Pizza and ADT Pulse, so you can order a pizza and turn the lights on before you pull into the driveway.
  • Ford Developer Program: January 2014 marked the one-year anniversary of the launch of The Ford Developer Program, intended to create apps that will utilize the Sync system and Ford's AppLink API. Ultimately, Ford hopes the program will enhance driver experiences and give mobile devices the tools they need to do more with vehicle interactions, reported VentureBeat. "The Ford Developer Program marks a dramatic shift in how we will innovate new features and add value to our vehicles throughout the ownership period," the company said in a statement at the time of launch. "Opening the car to developers gives consumers a direct voice and hand in the creation of apps that can help our products remain relevant, up to date and valuable to our customers." Another incentive to open up the developer program is to get more apps added faster. With about 40 AppLink-compatible apps available for iOS and Android, Ford felt it was worth opening up its Software development kit (SDK) to let more developers get in. Mascarenas takes a broad definition of the idea of the connected vehicle, with Sync being the most mass-market concept of them all, Forbes noted in January 2014. It was introduced six years ago at CES with Microsoft, and there are now 8 million vehicles on the road with Sync. “Despite taking some much deserved knocks for its glitches, Sync is improving steadily and becoming a safer option for drivers than fumbling with a phone in traffic,” according to Forbes. 
  • App Conference: Ford Motor Company is extending its in-vehicle connectivity leadership by hosting an industry-first developer conference in June 2014 focused on bringing innovative mobile apps into the car through Ford Sync AppLink, the carmaker reported in January 2014. The Ford Developer Conference will be held in conjunction with the annual Further with Ford trend conference that takes place in Dearborn, Michigan. “More than ever, consumers are getting organized, entertained and informed through their Internet-connected smartphones and tablets,” said Jim Farley, Ford EVP, Global Marketing, Sales and Service and Lincoln. “Drivers expect to be able to take advantage of that capability in the car, and Ford SYNC AppLink is the industry-leading platform for accessing apps while keeping eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.” Ford Sync AppLink is already on the road in more than 1.5 million vehicles in North America, and will launch globally in Europe and Asia later this year. App developers will be able to attend sessions led by Ford Developer Program leaders, current AppLink partners and guest speakers. Ford AppLink engineers and business development staff will be on hand throughout the conference collecting feedback on the system, as well as considering potential avenues for development of the platform going forward. Prior to the conference, Ford is encouraging the developer community to further innovate through a Developer Tools Giveaway. Ford will award SYNC Technology Development Kits for the app ideas that best exhibit use of the enhanced AppLink functionality and new APIs that were recently released to developers.

Key Challenges

  • About Face: According to a February 2014 ComputerWorld article, "Ford is reportedly set to replace the Windows-based Sync platform in its cars with an open-source based system used by several other automakers. Ford, among the first car companies to offer the ability to pair mobile devices with its in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) system, plans to dump Microsoft's Windows Embedded Automotive OS as its Sync IVI platform and adopt Blackberry's QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment...Apart from bugs in the Microsoft-based Ford Sync system -- causing poor voice recognition and the need for an occasional reboot -- since it was unveiled, the stories cited a bigger reason for the change: Cost and limited functionality. IVIs contain most software among devices in a car, requiring upwards of 40 million lines of code. Carmakers using products from software providers such as Microsoft today have to pay license fees and depend on third parties for upgrades and customization. Such companies, therefore, are left at the mercy of their vendors. Ford's Sync IVI system has never been recommended by Consumer Reports magazine. In fact it recently slipped to its lowest ranking ever by the magazine. 'Certainly all the negative press and feedback and Consumer Reports talking badly about Ford's Sync system ... is helping Ford rethink all of their technology solutions going forward,' said Gartner analyst Thilo Koslowski. By turning to the open-source QNX platform, Ford gets a full community of developers to support and update software. QNX also supports the ubiquitous HTML5 markup language and other native user interface toolsets...Before being purchased by Blackberry in 2010, QNX Software Systems was owned by audio and infotainment equipment company Harmon International. It's been used in more than 200 different car models, so it has been well vetted...According to the reports, Ford also considered Google's Android-based OS before choosing QNX Software Systems. Ford has yet to confirm its move away from Microsoft. 'We do not discuss details of our work with others or speculate on future products for competitive reasons,' a spokesman said...Ford wants its IVI to act more like a smartphone or tablet, which can't be done using Microsoft's OS. For example, Ford's Sync with MyFord Touch (the premium Ford IVI system) is said to offer connectivity to more than 60 applications, mostly non-mainstream apps. Blackberry's QNX is already used by General Motors, Honda Motor Co., Hyundai Motor Co. and other automakers to run IVI systems that connect mobile devices to in-car technology. Audi has also built a concept car using QNX. QNX is only one of several open-source IVIs

  • Lack of a Standard: The Open Auto Alliance (or OAA) is "committed to bringing the Android platform to cars starting in 2014," CNET reported in January 2014 – and while initial members of the group include such heavyweights as GM, Audi, Honda and Hyundai, Ford is conspicuous by its absence. From the outside OAA “certainly looks like a competing option to Ford's Smart Device Link,” CNET said, “but Mascarenas isn't bothered. ‘I don't think in any way it's frustrating,’ he said. ‘If anything it's good for the industry. It avoids fragmentation and takes complexity out of things. Just like we're promoting AppLink as an industry standard it takes complexity out for the developers.... We're very happy with what we're doing, with our work with the Livio guys, but we're open to work with others as well.’ Mascarenas and Ford, unlike GM and other big carmakers, have chosen not to join the OAA - at least not yet. ‘We've talked to those people as well,’ Mascarenas said. ‘I wouldn't use the term vague, but it's very open. That's a good thing. I think the vision is excellent, I really do. No concerns from Ford.’ Especially since there may be an opportunity to merge the two standards, or at least modify one to support the other. ‘I think in the end we'll do the right thing for the customer,’ Mascarenas said. ‘For me, it's not so much how you connect things. People don't really care about that. It's more about the content and the experience.’” According to CNET, this echoes Mascarenas' thoughts on both GM and Audi announcing partnerships with AT&T to provide LTE connectivity to their cars. In Europe, traditionally, data-enabled cars have had SIM slots that enabled 3G data from any carrier. In the United States, and with the spread of LTE, manufacturers are more frequently taking this approach of tying their cars to a specific provider - often Ma Bell. According to Mascarenas, you shouldn't be forced to get a new data plan on one carrier just to support our car. "Our strategy has always been device agnostic….It comes back to this vehicle just being another device. You should be able to add this to whatever plan you've got. I'm just talking as a customer and what would I expect? It's nice to talk about technology, but we have to keep coming back to the customer experience first." And, for the short-term at least, Mascarenas believes that connectivity through the data-enabled devices we already own will continue to be the simplest way. "Do you see these going away?" he asks, gesturing toward a smartphone sitting on the table.

Biographical Highlights

  • Born circa 1961 in London, England.
  • Mascarenas earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from King's College at the University of London in 1982.
  • He went on to earn a Diploma in Management Studies from Danbury Park Management Centre in 1989.
  • Mascarenas joined Ford Motor Company in 1982 and has since held the following positions:
    • Various positions in product planning, program management, body engineering and powertrain in Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States
    • Chief Program Engineer, Ford Mondeo
    • Vehicle Line Director for midsize cars and MPVs in Europe (2002)
    • Executive Director, Product Development, for medium and large front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive cars in North America
    • Vice President of Engineering, Global Product Development (January 2005)
    • VP and Chief Technical Officer, Research and Advanced Engineering (January 2011)

Other Boards and Organizations

  • Former Member, Executive Board, International Federation of Automotive Engineering Societies (FISITA)
  • President Elect, Executive Board, International Federation of Automotive Engineering Societies (FISITA) (Present)
  • Member, Honorary Committee, International Federation of Automotive Engineering Societies (FISITA) (Present)
  • Member, Board of Directors, Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation (AFCC) (Present)

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Contact Information

1 American Rd.
Dearborn, MI, 48126-2798
United States


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Personal Interests

  • Golf
  • Soccer

Other News and Interviews

Paul Mascarenas on Connectivity, October 2013