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Building on the huge success of SYNC, Ford is moving to the next generation of in-car communications with the introduction of new capabilities for SYNC with ?911 Assist? and new SIRIUS Travel Link? navigation. Both features will be available on the new 2009 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner, and their respective hybrid models, being introduced at the 2008 Washington Auto Show.

With Washington D.C. ranked in a tie for the second-worst traffic in the nation, according to a Texas Transportation Commission report, and congestion only getting worse in the future, Ford?s ?connected car? features can help make the ?Beltway? commute more enjoyable, productive, and secure.

?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.?

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.

Ford?s next-generation navigation system, available on the new 2009 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner, features SIRIUS Travel Link? data services which bring up-to-the-minute helpful information inside the car that can help ?Beltway? commuters avoid traffic, keep up on scores for their favorite local sports teams, plan for weather with 5-day forecasts, and take a break with local movie listings. And, one of most commuter-friendly features is access to local gas prices and the capability to choose to be routed to the nearest station featuring the lowest prices.

In Washington, daily commutes range from about 30-40 minutes on average according to a U.S. Census survey, with congestion expected to increase by 119% over the next twenty years according to the National Capitol Region Transportation Planning Board.

It?s no surprise that studies show American consumers increasingly expect to stay connected and enjoy instant access to information. Approximately 243 million Americans have mobile phones today and four of every five adults have regular access to the internet. In fact, Nationwide Insurance estimates that 73% of drivers choose to talk on their cell phones while driving.

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.?

Ford SYNC and ?911 Assist? capability

Ford confirmed two new features for its popular SYNC communications and connectivity system earlier this year at the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show, 911 Assist and Vehicle Health Reports. These new features arrive later this year when nearly every new Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicle will be available with Ford?s award-winning SYNC system.

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 (, 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 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

Earlier this year, Ford 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 the new 2009 models of Ford Escape, Escape Hybrid, F-150, Flex, Mercury Mariner, and Mariner Hybrid by the end of this 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.