One of the cool features that Ford is introducing for the 2009 model year is its updated navigation system with Sirius Travel Link. When we went out to drive the updated 2009 Ford Escape this week, Ford's chief technology spokes-model Alan Hall gave us a guided tour of the system. The next generation nav unit takes the traditional touch screen GPS unit and integrates it with the popular SYNC system that debuted last year, while adding real time downloadable information from Sirius and a 10GB jukebox. The Sirius system provides information such as live weather maps overlaid on the navigation data, current fuel prices, movie listings and more.
With the jukebox, you can insert an audio CD and automatically rip it to the internal hard drive like you can in the Cadillac CTS. The full Gracenote CDDB database is incorporated so that the meta-data can be automatically added. The screen can even display the album artwork. The system can even play DVDs with the video only being visible on the front seat screen when the car is in park. As soon as the transmission is shifted into gear, it only plays the audio track. If you pull up a restaurant listing, it can automatically dial your bluetooth phone through the SYNC system. Like SYNC, the whole system can be controlled by voice commands so you don't have to take your hands off the wheel. The new setup will be on most 2009 Fords, with bigger vehicles like the new Flex and the MKS getting an 8-inch touch screen while the smaller Escape makes do with a 6.5" inch screen. Ford will be charging $1,995 for the full system including SYNC, the nav system, Travel Link and the jukebox. Check out a pair of video run-throughs of the system after the jump.
Autoblog tours Ford's Travel Link Navigation Syste
Autoblog tours Ford's Travel Link Navigation Syste
POPULAR FORD SYNC SYSTEM EXPANDED; NEW SIRIUS 'TRAVEL LINK' TAKES NAVIGATION TO NEW LEVEL
- Award-winning Ford SYNC™ system – developed with Microsoft – is upgraded with new "911 Assist" feature for vehicle emergencies –and no monthly fees.
- SYNC be available in nearly all Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles later this year; 1 million SYNC-equipped Ford Motor Company vehicles expected on the road in 2009.
- New SIRIUS Travel Link™ navigation system provides up-to-the-minute information on gas prices, traffic, weather, sports scores and movie listings.
Building on the huge success of SYNC, Ford Motor Company is moving to the next generation of in-car communications with the introduction of SYNC with "911 Assist" and SIRIUS Travel Link™ navigation.
Ford SYNC – developed with Microsoft – connects people and their portable devices in the vehicle, including media players and Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones. It is one of the rising stars in the auto industry and is on track to reach 1 million sales in early 2009. Later this year, SYNC will be offered exclusively on nearly every new Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicle.
"Ford's goal is to deliver the smart, connected in-car experience that customers today demand and to lead the industry into a new era of in-vehicle connectivity," says Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president of Global Product Development.
"Ford is answering the call with the best new technology solutions from companies like Microsoft and SIRIUS, connecting customers with mobile devices, important information they need on the road and bringing the experience to life with the latest in navigation technology," Kuzak added.
Research shows that safety continues to be a leading driver of purchase consideration, and Ford is already a safety leader. In fact, Ford Motor Company has earned more National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) five-star safety ratings and more Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Picks than any other manufacturer.
But, in the event of a serious accident with an air bag deployment, the ability to directly contact the local 911 emergency operator could be a critical need – for both vehicle occupants and the first responders. Beginning later this year, SYNC with 911 Assist can help.
When a phone is properly paired, turned on and connected to SYNC – which is designed to happen every time the driver enters the vehicle with his or her cell phone – the system will be ready to assist in placing a call to a local 911 emergency operator should an air bag-deploying accident occur.
Before initiating the emergency 911 call, SYNC will provide a 10-second window to allow the driver or passenger to decide whether to cancel the call. If not manually cancelled within the 10-second window, SYNC will place the emergency call. A pre-recorded message will play when the call is answered, and occupants in the vehicle will then be able to communicate directly with the 911 operator.
"Being connected means being able to get the help you need, when you need it," Kuzak said. "With SYNC, and specifically with the 911 Assist feature, we will be providing our customers an extra layer of security and peace of mind."
The key advantage of SYNC 911 Assist is speed, as calls are placed directly to local 911 operators. A SYNC-assisted call should reach 911 operators faster than competitive systems, as there are no handoffs and no need to speak to a call-center operator. Further, there is no additional monthly fee for this feature, as SYNC utilizes a customer's existing mobile phone.
Once the call is connected, 911 operators can respond to the situation exactly as they would with any 911 call. Emergency services can even determine the medical priority and dispatch the appropriate assistance based on the situation. If necessary – if vehicle occupants are non-responsive, for example – the location of the vehicle can be determined through voice-signal triangulation or, on some phones, the GPS location feature.
The new SYNC 911 Assist feature is expected to be high on every "customer want" list. It will become available later this year, and earlier SYNC software in vehicles will be updatable to support this additional application.
Vehicle Health Reports
Properly maintaining vehicles can save time, money and improve customers' ownership experiences. Later this year, with SYNC's added functionality, staying up to speed with a vehicle's maintenance needs will be easier than ever.
Using the SYNC website (www.syncmyride.com), customers will be able to set up personal preferences for Vehicle Health Report (VHR). Once established, a confidential report can be requested at any time, at no cost, using simple voice commands.
In creating a health report, SYNC will gather relevant information from the major vehicle control modules and send that information to Ford via an 800-number using the customer's paired and operable mobile phone. The whole process, which in some vehicles will include a routine check of more than two dozen systems, takes a matter of minutes.
Once sent, the information is automatically analyzed by Ford and a complete report is created. Notification is then sent via text message or e-mail, based on customer preference. Reports will be accessible through www.syncmyride.com and will use simple, customer-friendly language, suggest next steps and, when appropriate, allow customers to schedule service online. Reports can also be printed or emailed as necessary.
Owners who need reminding about vehicle maintenance will be able to have SYNC prompt them to run a report at mileage intervals consistent with Ford's maintenance schedule.
Ford SIRIUS Travel Link™ navigation system
At the International CES, Ford also announced it is moving in-car connectivity further forward with the launch of a next-generation navigation system, available for the first time ever with SIRIUS Travel Link.
With Travel Link, drivers and passengers will have access to up-to-the-minute information and entertainment content through the vehicle's navigation system. This includes: current gas prices from an estimated 120,000 filling stations; local, real-time traffic information for 78 markets; coast-to-coast weather conditions with five-day forecasts; sports scores, and movie listings.
Travel Link works through the existing SIRIUS satellite and repeater infrastructure – offering uninterrupted, coast-to-coast coverage.
Specifically, the Ford SIRIUS Travel Link system provides information on:
- Traffic Data: SIRIUS Travel Link combines real-time traffic speed and flow data with accident and incident information to allow the user to navigate around congested areas.
- Weather: SIRIUS Travel Link shows coast-to-coast weather data, current conditions and five-day forecasts, detailed storm cell information, hurricane and tropical storm tracking, local wind speeds, and even ski resort conditions.
- Fuel Prices: Drawing on information from more than 120,000 gas stations, SIRIUS Travel Link sorts fuel options by price, distance or alphabetically. If requested, the navigation system can route users to the gasoline station with the lowest fuel price.
- Sports: No matter your passion – NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR, NCAAF, NCAAB, and golf – SIRIUS Travel Link provides scores and schedules and can be personalized for the user's selected teams.
- Movies: With listings from more than 4,500 movie theaters, SIRIUS Travel Link helps consumers plan ahead by providing movie times, theater addresses, ratings and run lengths. Using the Ford navigation system, the data can be sorted by distance. If requested, the navigation system can route users to the selected movie theater.
"Having this information in a car is game-changing," said Doug Wilsterman, SIRIUS senior vice president and general manager for automotive OEMs. "This is technology that drivers will use everyday."
When introduced this summer, the all-new 2009 Lincoln MKS will be one of the first vehicles with Ford's full suite of new in-car communications technologies, including Travel Link. The service will be offered on multiple Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicles by the end of the year.
A six-month introductory subscription to the SIRIUS Travel Link service – combined with the SIRIUS Satellite Radio audio service – will be included in every Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicle equipped with Ford's next-generation navigation system.
In-Car Communications Popularity Soars
American consumers increasingly expect to stay connected and enjoy instant access to information, studies show. Approximately 243 million Americans have mobile phones today and four of every five adults have regular access to the internet.
By 2009, trends indicate there will be as least 250 million portable media players in use.
A third of U.S. consumers are very interested in having Internet access in their vehicles, and the number is close to 50 percent for survey respondents between the ages of 16 and 25, according to a 2007 J.D. Power Automotive Emerging Technologies study.
"Consumers are increasingly demanding seamless connectivity between their house and office and car," noted Sheryl Connelly, Ford Global Trends and Futuring manager. "They want to be able to access information 'just in time' or on-demand, because they are used to having access to it wherever they go. More than anything, they want to stay connected and informed."
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 250,000 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.ford.com.