Ford and Google have signed a six-year partnership deal that could bring significant changes both to the way cars are designed and built but also the experience users have owning and operating their vehicles.

“Today’s automobiles use computers in a variety of different ways, from controlling their powertrains and smart safety devices to operating onboard infotainment systems. Going forward, all these digital technologies will be linked by an automotive version of Google’s Android operating system,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said.

The alliance is part of Ford’s plan to roll out millions of new vehicles with electric, autonomous and connected technologies.

“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 modernize our business,” added Farley.

For instance, the Android operating system will keep track of potential mechanical and software issues, warning owners when service or repairs are needed and even automatically setting up a dealer appointment.

A feature that could prove critical will be the ability to deliver over-the-air updates – offering motorists features that weren’t available when their cars and trucks were purchased.

The concept is already familiar to Tesla owners, but the Google/Ford system aims to go a step further, by pushing software upgrades giving motorists range and performance improvements together with new features such as infotainment and safety system improvements – essentially things that don’t require additional hardware.

The first Ford vehicles using Android-based technology will roll out during the 2023 model-year.