When SYNC®,Ford’s voice-activated in-car connectivity system first debuted in 2007, it earned rave reviews for its advanced, customizable technology. Now, Ford has announced it has sold four million vehicles equipped with SYNC, just one year after reaching the three million mark. In addition, the Microsoft-powered system is now available on 100 percent of the automaker’s 2012 retail product lineup in North America, offering more options for hands-free entertainment, information and safety upgrades.
Capitalizing on its U.S. success, Ford will launch SYNC globally this year; the automaker predicts that by 2015, SYNC will have reached nine million new customers in Europe and Asia. On top of these international ventures, America’s all-new Ford Fusion and Ford Flex models will launch with SYNC as a standard feature.
SYNC is powered by the Microsoft Windows Embedded Automotive Platform and has set the bar high for its competitors. “SYNC has been a transformational technology not only for Ford, but for the industry,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford Group Vice President for Global Product Development. “SYNC has been integral to keeping pace with the consumer, delivering value through a constant flow of new features that keep them connected to their digital lives in a safer, simpler and smarter way while driving.”
Since its introduction five years ago, SYNC has stayed ahead of the game by offering more features and upgrades each year. Shortly after launch, Ford added SYNC 911 Assist™
to connect drivers directly with 911 operators after an accident. It is the only in-car, non-subscription call-for-help system.
In 2009, SYNC Services was introduced, providing voice-activated access to a cloud-based network of information including traffic, news, sports, weather and stock quotes, as well as business searches and turn-by-turn directions.
Ford added SYNC AppLink™ in 2010, allowing smartphone-equipped customers access to popular apps like Pandora® Internet Radio and Stitcher™ using voice control. Operator Assist, introduced in 2011 and available through SYNC Services, gives users quick and easy access to live help.
Ford has taken the time to develop many of SYNC’s features based on driver feedback. As Kuzak explains, “Listening to customers and monitoring consumer trends has helped make SYNC a ‘must-have’ technology. We will continuously improve SYNC based on customer feedback with the availability of software updates and upgrades.”
Ford internal research has found that customers who bought 2011 Ford models treat SYNC as a “must-have technology” and purchase the system 82 percent of the time. In addition, more than 80 percent of SYNC users said they are likely to recommend the system to others.
Ford is already gathering significant feedback for its latest SYNC upgrade, MyFord Touch®. Customer clinics were held after the initial release of MyFord Touch, and drivers said they wanted the system to be faster and easier to use with simpler graphics. As a result, Ford engineers conducted a major upgrade to MyFord Touch that will appear first on the all-new Ford Escape and the 2013 Flex and Taurus models. Current owners of 2011-12 Explorers, Edges and the 2012 Focus will be mailed a USB memory stick equipped with the software upgrade at no charge.
“Ford and Microsoft are driven by a common vision to give consumers the ability to combine their digital lifestyles with their lives on the road,” said Windows Embedded General Manager Kevin Dallas. “Windows Embedded Automotive enables Ford more flexibility and extensibility to innovate, speed up the product refresh cycle, and evolve SYNC to keep up with the fast pace of the consumer electronics industry.”
In addition to faster touch-screen response time, the upgrade will feature several additional enhancements:
- Improved voice recognition powered by Nuance®
- Tablet device compatibility
- Audible.com audiobook support
- Connected GPS navigation powered by TeleNav with new map data by NAVTEQ
- Improved phone compatibility
- Gracenote album cover art database featuring the latest music metadata available
With SYNC quickly gaining an international presence on top of its U.S. popularity, Ford is defining the future of in-car connectivity systems. For now, however, the automaker has four million fans, and counting.