Every now and then carmakers come out with gadgets that actually make life a little easier, but then charge the world for it. Not Ford, as its new Sync voice-activated in-car communications and entertainment system can be optioned at a relatively low $395, or you can get it completely free with any Lincoln product. All up, Sync will be available in 12 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products this fall, and, it'll eventually spread to nearly all Blue Oval products within the next two years. Some high-spec Ford models such as the Ford Edge Limited or Ford Focus SES will also get Sync as standard.

For the $395 asking price, you get the ability to connect digital media players such as an iPod and Bluetooth cell phones to your car and control them with your voice or steering wheel mounted buttons. According to Ford's own research, up to 70% of new car buyers are looking for the ability to use such devices in their cars, and there's not much else out there that's as easy and convenient to use as the new Sync. Considering some luxury carmakers charge exorbitant rates for such technology or don't offer it at all, it's nice to see one of the domestics taking the lead and making it affordable for the average consumer.

[Source: Ford]

PRESS RELEASE

DEARBORN, Mich., August 9, 2007 – Ford Motor Company today confirmed the distribution and pricing strategy of Ford Sync, an advanced in-car communication and entertainment system developed in collaboration with Microsoft. Sync will be standard on Lincoln vehicles and widely available on Ford and Mercury vehicles. In most cases, Sync will be included as standard equipment on high-series models from Ford and Mercury – the Ford Edge Limited or Ford Focus SES, for example. On models where Sync is optional, it will be priced at $395.

"Consumer reaction to Sync has been extremely positive since our launch earlier this year," says Cisco Codina, Ford's group vice president of North America Marketing, Sales and Service. "This positive reaction has convinced us to make the system widely available across our range of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products. The simplicity and capability of Sync have tremendous appeal and the affordability we are confirming today is certain to drive ever greater interest."

Sync is a Ford-exclusive technology based on Microsoft Auto software which provides consumers the convenience and flexibility to bring digital media players – Apple iPods, Microsoft Zunes, and other MP3 players – and Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones into their vehicle and operate the devices via voice commands or with the vehicle's steering wheel or radio controls. Simply stated: with Sync, consumers are able to use their voice to command their digital media players and Bluetooth mobile phones.

Sync is an on-board computer platform loaded with software that seamlessly integrates the vehicle with today's popular portable electronic devices. Since it is a software-based system, it is updatable and should be able to support the devices and services of tomorrow.

"Drivers want a simple solution to stay connected to the information, entertainment and people most important to them while on the road," said Velle Kolde, product manager of Microsoft's Automotive Business Unit. "Ford Sync, based on the Microsoft Auto software platform, is an updatable, smart and convenient solution for connecting your car with your life."

Demand for In-Car Connectivity is on the Rise

According to research firm IDC (www.IDC.com), the popularity of digital media players continues to grow. A survey in 2006 found nearly 25 percent of U.S. households had at least one media player and ownership among younger consumers was even higher: nearly 60 percent of people aged 18 to 24 owned at least one.

In a related trend, Ford research indicates that over 70 percent of new car buyers are now looking for the ability to use digital media players in their new cars.

Likewise, mobile phone use is commonplace in North America. There are more than 200 million mobile phones in the U.S., according to the Consumer Electronics Association. More mobile phones than ever are Bluetooth enabled. Bluetooth wireless technology is a short-range communications mechanism that replaces traditional cable connections for portable devices. Using Bluetooth technology, Ford Sync can seamlessly connect to a user's mobile phone while it is in the vehicle.

According to the Bluetooth SIG, the special-interest group that manages the Bluetooth protocol, the top-selling phones of all major U.S. carriers have been Bluetooth enabled since 2006 and approximately 70 percent of new mobile phones sold today are Bluetooth enabled.

Ford Sync Becomes Widely Availability

Sync will be available on nearly all Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products within two years. The launch will begin this fall, initially with the Ford Focus, Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX. By the end of the year, Sync will be standard or available on the following 2008 model-year vehicles:

Ford Edge

Mercury Sable

Lincoln MKX

Ford Explorer

Mercury Milan

Lincoln MKZ

Ford Explorer Sport Trac

Mercury Mountaineer

Ford Focus
Ford Fusion
Ford Taurus
Ford Taurus X

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles in 200 markets across six continents. With about 260,000 employees and about 100 plants worldwide, the company's core and affiliated automotive brands include Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mercury, Volvo and Mazda. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford's products, please visit www.fordvehicles.com.