CES '08 Preview: Ford to show SYNC 2.0, in-dash HD and cheap gas-finding nav

Though GM's Rick Wagoner nabbed the honor of giving this year's keynote address at next week's 2008 CES Show in Las Vegas, Ford may grab the headlines with a suite of new in-car entertainment, navigation and communication technologies that it plans to implement across its brands in the near future. First up will be the second version of its popular SYNC interface, details of which are scant. Considering that the SYNC system's capabilities are already robust, we're not sure what else they can add to it and are eager to find out.

Ford will also be showing off its new SIRIUS Travel Link nav system, which gets updated in real time with all sorts of info from the SIRIUS satellites. Drivers can call up instant traffic data, weather, sports scores and movie showings, as well as plot a course to the gas station with cheapest fuel prices.

Finally, Ford will have its new navigation system sourced from Xanavi on display with what we believe is a ginormous 7.5-inch touchscreen and an in-dash hard drive that can store up to 2,400 songs. Hopefully it will also have the capacity to pause and rewind live radio like Cadillac's system in the CTS. We've already seen the Xanavi system's new, larger screen in images of the upcoming 2009 Lincoln MKS sedan, a car that's slated to be fitted with the gamut of Ford's new in-car technologies when it goes on sale this summer.

Keep your eyes on Autoblog early next week for when we start our coverage of the 2008 CES Show from Las Vegas. We'll have more details on what Ford and the rest of the auto industry has to offer in the way of electronics for the coming year.

[Source: Ford]
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The 2009 Lincoln MKS will be launched later this year with SYNC as standard equipment.

  • Popular Ford SYNC system upgrades and other new in-car communications technologies to be unveiled at consumer electronics show on Sunday
  • Announcements include Ford's new SIRIUS Travel Link™ navigation system, which gives drivers and passengers up-to-the-minute information on current gas prices, traffic, coast-to-coast weather conditions, sports scores and movie listings
  • New SIRIUS Travel Link system is coupled to Ford's next-generation navigation – developed with industry leader Xanavi
  • The system includes full music "jukebox" capability – with space for up to 2,400 tracks and Gracenote® technology for album cover art and music voice control
  • All-new 2009 Lincoln MKS luxury sedan – on sale this summer – is first vehicle with Ford's full suite of new in-car communications technologies
  • Every new Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicle will be available with Ford's award-winning SYNC system by year end; 85 percent of Ford's retail volume will be offered with SYNC – including Bluetooth connectivity

DEARBORN, Mich., Jan. 4, 2008 – Building on the success of SYNC, Ford Motor Company unveils the next generation of in-car communications at the International CES on Sunday.

The company will announce what comes next for SYNC –developed in partnership with Microsoft – as well as introduce International CES attendees to Ford's new SIRIUS Travel Link™ navigation system.

"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, who will attend the International CES, the world's largest consumer trade event and showcase for new technologies.

"Ford is answering the call with the best 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 and branded audio," Kuzak adds.

SYNC is one of the rising stars in the auto industry today and is on track to reach 1 million sales in early 2009. SYNC connects people and their favorite portable devices while in the vehicle, including media players and Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones.

In addition to new SYNC features to be revealed at the International CES, Ford has confirmed that nearly every new Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicle will be available with SYNC by year end, when approximately 85 percent of company's retail volume will be offered with SYNC – including its Bluetooth connectivity.

Ford SIRIUS Travel Link™ navigation system
At the International CES, Ford also will announce 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."

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