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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Among all the new tablets and smartphones at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Vegas are a few cars, and Ford knows that it needs apps to grab the attention of younger, ‘connected’ car-buyers.
Like an evolution of the Groupon concept, the new ROXIMITY App can alert you of realtime deals nearby and thanks to its addition to Ford’s SYNC AppLink, it can do even more – as you drive.
Ford is rather proud of its new SYNC system, and will be making it standard equipment on all 2013 Ford Fusion and Ford Flex models, the American automaker announced. Their MyFordTouch system will only be seen on upper trim levels however.
Surprisingly the 2013 model year of the Fusion and Flex will be the first time ever Ford has made their SYNC standard equipment. Since its introduction in 2007, Ford has installed SYNC in over four million vehicles. Now that it has become standard fare in the Fusion and Flex, Ford expects to add another nine million vehicles on the road with SYNC over the next three years.
“ Ford SYNC technology has led the industry in transforming the way we connect to our cars,” said Dave Mondragon, Ford general marketing manager. “SYNC has enabled Ford drivers to take advantage of the latest communication and entertainment technology with an easily upgradeable architecture that is friendly to use.”
GALLERY: 2013 Ford Fusion
GALLERY: 2013 Ford Flex
In response to falling quality and criticisms over its MyFord Touch and SYNC info entertainment systems, Ford Motor Company is taking steps to improve the situation.
CEO Alan Mulally has gone on the record stating that the company plans to introduce revised versions of both systems that will be simpler to use and more reliable.
He also says that part of the problem with the existing MyFord Touch and SYNC was quality control during the development process. As a result Ford has taken steps to greatly improve the matter, plus it says that from 2012 onwards, owners of Ford and Lincoln vehicles will also receive a flash drive which they can use to upgrade their existing MyFord Touch and SYNC software to the new, improved version without having to go to their nearest dealer.
And despite teething troubles, Mulally remains convinced that the technology is the way forward; currently, Ford is working on plans to make it standard on all Lincoln vehicles and incorporated in some 80 percent of Ford branded products by 2014.
He also says that despite the widely publicized criticism leveled at MyFord Touch and SYNC, including comments made by Consumer Reports, which saw the 2011 Ford Edge being dropped from the magazine’s “recommended” list; the systems do have their fans. “For 50 percent of the people [the systems] are part of the decision to buy a car,” he stated. Mulally also said that some “70 percent of the people that use SYNC and MyFord Touch also recommend it to their friends.”
[Source: Automotive News]
The high revving 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 is known strictly for its energized 5.0-liter V8 and its adjustable suspension because it was built as a track car. It was built to go fast and handle well in the corners but one aspect of the car that could use some work is the no-frills interior.
Several owners have been complaining that the interior could use some more technology. It looks as though they may be getting their wish, as a leaked list of features includes the SYNC system. The Boss will also be getting a 4.2-inch LCD message center that will likely be the same one currently used in the Explorer and F-150. The Boss will also get HID headlights, although it is unclear whether they will be standard or an option, but what has been confirmed is that the graphics package will be available, similar to that of the 1970 Boss 302.
Read our full review of the Boss 302 here!
GALLERY: Ford Mustang Boss 302
[Source: Mustangs Daily]
With an almost Aston Martin look and feel about it, Ford has unveiled the Evos concept ahead of its official debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month. Dripping with sex appeal, Ford global product boss Derrick Kuzak says the car was created to show the three key elements of the automaker’s One Ford global product strategy: design, fuel economy leadership and smart technologies.
Powering the car is the same plug-in hybrid drivetrain that will soon be offered in the production C-MAX Energi, although it has been optimized using stored driver behavior and patterns to predict the driving route and destination and thereby adapt the fuel delivery to suit. Calling it a “cloud-optimized powertrain” Ford says the system would, “‘know’ when to save energy and switch modes, using information about the vehicle’s predicted travel route, any emission zone restrictions during the journey and current weather conditions.”
As for technology, the Evos is designed to deliver a “provide personalised and safe connection to the outside world in an enriching manner”. How this is done is by using next-generation of SYNC technology that Ford says is currently under development, allowing the car to tap-into the driver’s “personal cloud” of information, in order to deliver a custom experience. This, says Ford, would then allow the car to adapt the handling, steering and engine controls to the driver as well.
Finally, there’s the stunning design of this concept, which Ford says points towards the next-generation of its models. “We wanted the Ford Evos Concept to give a clear message about where Ford design is heading – shaping vehicles that are fun to drive, have a strong premium visual appeal, and above all, are stunningly beautiful,” said J Mays, group vice president, Design and chief creative officer.
Look for ore details with coverage from the Frankfurt Auto Show starting September 13th.
GALLERY: Ford Evos Concept
The companies signed a memorandum of understanding, and will do further research and studies regarding the project. The new system is said to be rear-drive based, and uses different technology than both Ford and Toyota’s current hybrid systems.
Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s head of global product development, stated that the two companies would not be sharing platforms, but rather sharing costs developing hybrid and telematics systems, which would be implemented into brand-specific vehicles. Takeshi Uchiyamada, Executive Vice President of Toyota, also stressed the importance of developing new telematics technology, though Ford’s own SYNC system, developed with Microsoft, has been criticized for being too complex and unreliable.
Good news for those optioning up a new Ford: its SYNC system is now $100 cheaper, from $395 to $295.
Ford will also roll out SYNC to every one of their cars within the next three years. Currently, it’s only available on higher trim levels, but with the 2012 Explorer and Edge, base models can get SYNC with the cheaper price.
Next year’s 2013 Escape, Taurus, Flex, and Focus will have SYNC available at that price. Ford aims to make SYNC a safety option as well as for listening to obscure Internet radio stations—hands-free capability and 911 Assist aren’t just available to the bourgeoise anymore.
If Ford has any say, the CD player could go the way of the cassette, 8-track, and the phonograph: because what are ya, some kind of Metamucil-chuggin’ geezer?
Time to throw out that David Bowie’s Greatest Hits CD, because digital media is the only route for Ford and its SYNC system. The well-publicized “infotainment hub” will allow Wifi access of drivers’ digital libraries, from Spotifiy or Apple’s iCloud. MP3 players can also plug right in via aux inputs. And with 2.15 million Fords expected to have SYNC by 2015, it will be enough to sink the CD player and falling physical media sales (down 12.4% in 2010).
In response to falling ratings on the JD Power and Associates Initial Quality ratings, largely due to issues relating to unreliable voice commands on it’s much touted Sync system; Ford Motor Company is taking a leaf out of General Motors’ book by looking at adding live operators to the service.
During the course of this summer, Ford is testing what it calls ‘Operator Assist’ essentially a service that connects drivers with a real person if they’re having problems getting directions or asking commands after three attempts with the automated Sync system.
By the Fall, the company is expected to make a decision as to whether it will go ahead with Operator Assist on a full-time basis. If that proves to be the case, Ford says existing Sync Service customers won’t need any new software to access an operator and the additional service will be provided at no cost for a period of three years. After that customers would be billed an annual fee of $60, according to Ford spokesman Alan Hall.
This new strategy represents an almost about turn in Ford’s approach to Sync, when it was first launched in 2007. Originally it was designed to keep driver’s eyes on the road by using voice activated commands for features ranging from hands free calling, to vehicle functions, directions and even finding points of interest.
However the software, despite upgrades continues to have problems recognizing certain accents and commands, causing frustration among a number of motorists. Given how successful GM’s OnStar program has been since its introduction in 1996 (around half of all OnStar customers continue with subscription once their trial period is up), the idea of Ford adopting live agents, might prove a very good move.
[Source: Detroit Free Press]
Ford researchers are taking an ‘active’ role in developing a series of health and wellness in- car connectivity solutions designed to improve drivers lives. Ford is utilizing its SYNC system to develop a first voice controlled in car connection to an array of health aids such as a glucose monitoring system, diabetes management services and asthma management tools.
“Ford SYNC is well known in the industry and with consumers as a successful in-car infotainment system, but we want to broaden the paradigm, transforming SYNC into a tool that can help improve people’s lives as well as the driving experience,” said Paul Mascarenas, chief technology officer and vice president, Ford Research and Innovation.
Medical software including mobile healthcare devices and health and fitness-related software are hitting the market today, leading to the possibility of automotive integration. ”We want to create the car that cares,” Gary Strumolo, Ford manager of vehicle design and infotronics.
Ford is taking a smart, high-volume approach to health and wellness solutions inside the car by looking at two populations with the most need of medical information- people with diabetes and those with asthma.
“Ford’s approach to health and wellness in the vehicle is not about trying to take on the role of a healthcare or medical provider, we’re a car company,” said Gary Strumolo, global manager, Interiors, Infotainment, Health & Wellness Research, Ford Research and Innovation. “Our goal is not to interpret the data offered by the experts, but to work with them to develop intelligent ways for Ford vehicles using the power of SYNC. In essence, creating a secondary alert system and alternate outlet for real-time patient coaching services if you will.”
“Health and wellness provides a tremendous opportunity for Ford to provide peace of mind and a personal benefit to drivers and passengers while they are in our vehicles,” said Strumolo. “As more and more devices and technologies lend themselves to such connectivity in the car, it is our responsibility, our philosophy, to examine those possibilities and open our doors to industry relationships that can help us do it intelligently, efficiently and economically.”
[Source: Ford Media]
At first glance, the pairing of Toyota and Microsoft might make some a little uneasy. The prospect of unintended acceleration and “the blue screen of death” that appears on Windows computers might be the most terrifying technological catastrophe known to man.
Nevertheless, the two companies will be collaborating, but only as far as telematics. Ford and Microsoft already have their SYNC system to control things like in-car entertainment systems. The Toyota system will go beyond this facet, and is supposed to include some kind of “cloud-computing” platform, but with the partnership just forged, there are no real details pertaining to the program.
Hit the jump to read the official press release
Toyota will release a new in-car telematics system, dubbed Entune, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. Taking a page from Ford’s SYNC and MyFordTouch systems, Entune will oversee navigation, entertainment and smartphone connectivity services.
Entune will also support apps like Bing, Movietickets.com, Pandora. Toyota will only approve apps if they are confident that they won’t cause distracted driving, but any sort of screen that features multimedia connectivity is a hazard if you ask us. Of course, voice activation will be standard, as will satellite and HD radio receivers.
The full list of supported smartphones wasn’t available immediately, but with an Entune app available via iTunes, BlackBerry AppWorld and Android Market, Toyota looks to have all the major bases covered. Toyota’s Jon Bucci touted the fact that Entune can work with older smartphones and won’t require constant upgrades that would be impossible to run on anything but the newest handsets. The software upgrades would be available via wireless internet connection, and customers could avoid having to reflash the software at a dealership.
If you are the owner of an Apple iPhone and a Ford vehicle equipped with the SYNC system, you may have noticed that your phone and your car don’t like talking to each other.
That’s probably due to the fact that the SYNC system was developed by Microsoft, and since Bill Gates is not exactly best friends with Steve Jobs of Apple, the lack of communication between the two systems was likely deliberate.
So unless you have a RIM or Android operating system, your SYNC system could not be all that it could be. However, Ford has now announced that the next generation of SYNC will feature AppLink, which will happily talk with your iPhone, and this system will be first available to Fiesta customers.
Among the first apps to work with the SYNC system include Pandora internet radio, Stitcher news radio and OpenBeak. More apps adaptability is on its way says Ford.
So if you’ve been ignoring Fords because your iPhone didn’t work in them, rest easy now, all has been resolved.
Download SYNC AppLink at www.syncmyride.com
Hit the jump to see the press release.
OnStar is set to evolve from a safety feature that assists drivers in distress, into an in car infotainment platform, as its latest iteration launches voice text messaging and Facebook integration.
OnStar is looking to re-brand itself under the “responsible connectivity” tagline, an ironic label in light of the fact that social networking while driving will likely lead to more distraction, as users will inevitably concentrate on making flippant Facebook statuses rather than keeping focused on the road and other drivers. The status updates, like the integrated text messaging feature, allows for voice-activated updates, and can allow for users to have their News Feed read back to them, something that could easily result in awkward moments if passengers are in the car.
One good feature are the pre-set text replies such as “I received your text message, but am currently driving”. However, we’re still skeptical about the integration of social media and driving, especially in light of how stigmatized performance driving is in the context of public safety.
Hit the jump to read the official press release
Subaru is adding in-car wi-fi to the 2011 Outback, similar to Ford’s 3G Internet system with their SYNC telematics technology. A $499 dealer installed option, the Wi-Fi will work within 150 feet of the car, and can be used while the vehicle is in motion. Subaru will pick up the first three months, but the service will cost $29 a month after that.
Considering that a lot of Subaru owners take their cars to a summer home, ski cabin or far out area without high-speed web access, it’s a somewhat compelling option that is likely cheaper than an internet connection or exorbitant smartphone data plans.
Hit the jump to read the official press release
GM and Google are reportedly working on a deal that would see the integration of Google’s Android mobile phone operating system and GM’s Onstar telematics system.
Potentially scenarios being discussed involve Android phone users being able to use OnStar features outside of their car, while GM vehicle owners can use Android to keep track of service intervals, or in the case of the Chevrolet Volt, data regarding vehicle range and battery charging.
A GM/Google partnership would represent a significant challenge to Ford and Microsoft’s SYNC system, which is primarily an in-car entertainment system, albeit with significant voice activated functions designed to minimize driver distractions.
[Source: Automotive News]
Tech addicts, the 2011 Ford Fiesta may be your next car. (Just as long as you don’t own an Apple iPhone, ’cause it’s not supported yet.) SYNC, the in-car technology platform developed by Microsoft in partnership with Ford, will soon allow for third-party cell phone applications to be controlled by voice commands and in-car controls.
Forget the fact that no other automaker is even close to offering such integration, Sync AppLink will be on production vehicles this year. AppLink works — at launch — on Android and BlackBerry phones, with titles such as Pandora Internet radio, Stitcher “smart radio”, and Orangatame’s Twitter client OpenBeak available.
“The growth in smartphone mobile apps has been explosive, and Ford has worked hard to respond at the speed of the consumer electronics market,” said Doug VanDagens, director of Ford’s Connected Services Organization. “SYNC is the only connectivity system available that can extend that functionality into the car. AppLink will allow drivers to control some of the most popular apps through SYNC’s voice commands and steering wheel buttons, helping drivers keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.”
Once developers realize they can help distract drivers while on the road, this list is sure to grow exponentially. May we suggest an in-car fart app that can deliver a disgusting noise through a speaker closest to the intended victim?
Oh, Apple. Always coming up with ways to improve the user experience.
The picture above is from the 2011 Ford Edge and its groundbreaking MyTouch dashboard, which we’re using because it’s currently the most advanced in-car display. But it looks like everything, plus the kitchen sink, was put onto the screen. The result is very un-Apple like simplicity.
Apple apparently feels they should share some good design with drivers, according to technology site Engadget. In the upcoming iPhone OS 4.0 software exists an “iPod Out” mode, generating a simple menu that’s fed via a video output.
While we can’t comment on the choice of music in the clip below, we will say it looks far nicer (and simpler) than anything a manufacturer has yet shown. While some think this could pave the way for Apple-branded in-car accessories, we say: “Give us an Apple car stereo!”
See a short clip of the “iPod Out” mode after the jump:
The future of Lincoln? Yea right...
Used to highlight the potential of the Microsoft SYNC system found in modern FoMoCo vehicles, the Lincoln C Concept is quite obviously a technology concept and not a production concept – even if it is based on Ford’s global small car platform.
The futuristic SYNC system in the C Concept allows drivers to interact with a computer personality by voice and have the computer perform tasks, such as adding meetings to an address book, making calls and providing you with navigation instructions – essentially things that GM’s onStar already does, although the SYNC system would perform the tasks itself, rather than a person on the other end of the phone.
Most impressively, however, is the fact that the conceptual SYNC system can search the internet for you, find articles or items of interest and even read them to you while you drive.
The C Concept show in Detroit features a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 180hp and 180 ft-lbs of torque, all the while getting 43 miles per gallon on the highway. The transmission on the concept is a dual-clutch system (likes Audi’s DSG system) that is operated by paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
Now if only Ford could produce a car with this engine/drivetrain combo. That would be exciting!
Official release after the jump: