FORD plans to maintain in-car connectivity leadership

"Ford

Ford also announced that the new US version of SYNC features Traffic, Directions and Information to provide personalised real-time information with no monthly subscription fees for the first three years.

Ford announced its plans to globalise its SYNC technologies and services at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and introduced new features aimed at reinforcing its in-vehicle connectivity leadership.

Launching this summer, SYNC with Traffic, Directions and Information allows customers to move seamlessly between home, car and office, staying connected wherever they go. The new service will be available on all 2010 model-year SYNC-equipped Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models with no monthly subscription fees for the first three years.

Ford is partnering with Microsoft as well as INRIX, TeleNav, Tellme (a Microsoft subsidiary), M/A-COM and Airbiquity to enable the new services to connect to real-time data.

According to Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of global product development, a key difference and an important competitive advantage for Ford is that the company has no interest in developing its own proprietary system. Instead, it has an open system that accepts hardware and software products and applications. "We are striving to deliver technologies and applications to customers with speed, scale and affordability that no other automaker can touch."

The SYNC system is also upgradeable. Customers can download new features and applications, all subscription-free for three years.

SYNC's success is creating demand outside North America, and Ford will make the system available worldwide from 2010, starting in Europe and then migrating to Asia-Pacific and Australia.

Ford also is redefining how customers react and interact with a vehicle's controls and displays, including making voice recognition more natural and conversational. The first breakthrough in Ford's HMI strategy is SmartGauge with EcoGuide, which launches on the new 2010 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan Hybrids this spring. SmartGauge with EcoGuide is a new instrument cluster that provides real-time information and ‘coaches' drivers on how to achieve maximum fuel efficiency in their hybrids.

Ford also offered a glimpse into the future with a new, more powerful HMI that hints at how Ford's future interior environments could function one day. It takes SYNC to the next level through the use of configurable controls and the use of an electronic personal assistant, or ‘avatar', named Eva.

Engaged through conversational speech, Eva acts as the liaison to the vehicle's connectivity and infotainment features, including SYNC and the Internet.

Ford also announced a new partnership with leading electronics retailer Best Buy, to help build SYNC awareness and provide tech support through its Geek Squad.


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