Ford of Europe chairman and CEO Stephen Odell claims research carried out by the company has shown that customers are now placing a value on new technologies.
“As we work on cars with the best-in-class, smart technology, the consumer electronics industry is playing a really important role and we are leading by bringing together the automobile and consumer electronics industries.
With our new SYNC system, which delivers WiFi capability to drivers and their passengers, customers will be able to use their mobile devices through the automobile in a safer way.
“We aim to show how Ford vehicles will become docking stations for mobile devices and demonstrate how voice activation will be the key technology for future in-car experiences,” he said.
Due on the Focus range by the end of this year, SYNC in-car connectivity will plug an owner’s USB broadband modem in to the media hub to make the car a rolling WiFi hotspot allowing multiple passengers to access the signal.
Premium segment pacesetter Audi launched in-car connectivity on the range-topping A8 model two years ago.
Based on Google Earth mapping and originally called Online, the innovative system has been re-branded as Audi Connect.
Now available on most of the company’s fast-expanding model portfolio in the wake of findings from customer focus group sessions, the system allows points-of-interest search, weather, news, Google Street View and creates an in-car WiFi hotspot for connection of up to eight mobile devices to the internet.
“We have carried out extensive studies of how people use their cars on a daily basis in the US, Europe and China and have amassed a lot of evidence. We are convinced that innovation in this area pulls demand – it’s what customers want.
“That is abundantly clear from feedback to the task force teams we have working on future models and it is particularly obvious that business motorists want access to more rapid information on traffic conditions - that’s why our latest system is unique in providing real time traffic updates every two minutes.
“But that’s just the start – in future, our services will not only connect the driver to the car, they will feature car-to-car connection and connect the car to the infrastructure,” said Audi UK product marketing manager Robert Breschkow.
According to Breschkow, exploiting the potential of electronics will account for a ‘substantial’ proportion of the German brand’s
€13 billion research and investment budget over the next five years.
“Our view is that there’s no limit to what is possible with Audi Connect. The system will boost safety by providing advance warning of hazards to help drivers avoid accidents and reduce fuel consumption by smoothing progress through traffic light-controlled junctions,” he said.