Ford and Google have just announced a new strategic partnership that will span a period of six years. During this phase, Ford aims to accelerate its digital transformation and improve its connected vehicle experience, something it hopes to achieve with Google.

Part of this partnership will see Ford and Lincoln models at all price points get Google’s Android operating system, complete with Google apps and services built in. This includes Google Maps, Google voice assistant and Google Play, all of which will be optimised and integrated for in-vehicle use. It’s a global roll-out, so most markets will get this, except China, where Google is banned.

Despite Android being the backbone of the infotainment display, Ford will continue to use its Sync branding, much like how Volvo continues to use its Sensus brand despite being Android-powered. Apple CarPlay will be integrated as well.

Using Android OS will allow Ford to monitor vehicles once they are out on the road, warning owners should there be a problem that’s developing with their cars, or simply issue a reminder if a service is due.

Naturally, Google Cloud is the chosen cloud computing provider. This will allow Ford to tap into the tech giant’s expertise in data analytics technologies, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Ford and Lincoln vehicles will also get over-the-air software updates, allowing Ford to tweak a vehicle’s software remotely should problems arise.

Traditionally, automakers have shied away from teaming up with tech giants, fearing that they will collect a significant amount of user data that they later monitise. However, Ford vice president of strategy and partnerships, David McClelland said “Google will not have access to Ford data in the Google Cloud.”

Through this partnership, Ford also plans to “reinvent” major aspects of its car business, from the way vehicles are designed, engineered and assembled to the way customers shop and experience their cars. This will be part of the automaker’s efforts to drive innovation – a new collaborative group with Google called Team Upshift has been formed to facilitate this.

Ford president and CEO, Jim Farley said: “As Ford continues the most profound transformation in our history with electrification, connectivity and self-driving, Google and Ford coming together establishes an innovation powerhouse truly able to deliver a superior experience for our customers and modernise our business.”

Google and Alphabet CEO, Sundar Pichai also chimed in: “We’re proud to partner to apply the best of Google’s AI, data analytics, compute and cloud platforms to help transform Ford’s business and build automotive technologies that keep people safe and connected on the road.”