photo courtesy of Ford
The Ford SYNC voice-controlled communications and infotainment system made headlines this week with the 2-millionth installation. While all new Ford/Lincoln/Mercury vehicles I have been testing over the past couple of years include this feature I must admit I rarely, if ever, use it. For one, I don’t talk on the phone while driving if at all possible. Secondly, I am not in most of these vehicles long enough to take full advantage of all of the features available with SYNC.
And as I have discovered this week, while testing the cool new Harley-Davidson F-150 pickup, SYNC (by Microsoft) does not fully integrate with my iPhone (by Apple). Go figure – I am a Mac and they are a PC.
That said I did discover the phone will pair with the system via Bluetooth (sans text capabilities) and the iPod functions of my iPhone work with the truck’s nice audio system via USB connection. Admittedly I usually have the music up so loud I wouldn’t be able to talk on the phone and I am not going to interrupt a great jam with something so trivial as a phone call. Priorities, y’all.
For a full-on look at the Ford/SYNC technology, I am going to refer to Kerry Woo’s awesome review of the system during our trip to Washington state and Microsoft headquarters. Not only was this our first (and in-depth) look at SYNC but my first introduction to Gear Diary. The rest, as they say, is history.
Ford’s latest press release is as follows:
FORD SYNC HITS 2 MILLION MARK; BOOSTS RESALE VALUE, PURCHASE CONSIDERATION AND CUSTOMER SATISFACTION
· Ford SYNC® voice-controlled communications and infotainment system installed on 2-millionth vehicle less than a year after hitting the 1 million unit milestone
· Ford data show the system boosts resale value of SYNC-equipped vehicles by more than $200 over vehicles without the option
· After receiving SYNC demonstrations, 80 percent of potential customers report it improves their opinion of Ford and 70 percent are more likely to consider purchase
DEARBORN, Mich., March 24, 2010 – The popular Ford SYNC voice-controlled communications and infotainment system has been winning over buyers at its fastest pace ever, with Ford announcing SYNC has now been installed on more than 2 million Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles.
“The success of SYNC proves that customers want to be connected,” said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president of U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. “The speed with which we’ve hit the 2 million mark, the premium SYNC adds at auction, and the improvements in purchase consideration show that it is a true differentiator for us, adding real value for the customer.”
SYNC, built on the Microsoft Windows Embedded Automotive software platform, hit 2 million units only 10 months after Ford delivered its 1-millionth SYNC-equipped vehicle, a 2010 Fusion Hybrid, to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The first SYNC systems were delivered in fall 2007.
“Microsoft and Ford share a common vision when it comes to connecting drivers and passengers to their digital lifestyles,” said Kevin Dallas, general manager of Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Business. “The beauty of building on the Windows Embedded Automotive software platform is that its flexibility has enabled Ford to create new, engaging in-vehicle experiences over the past three years for their consumers to enjoy behind the wheel. We’re excited to see what new roads SYNC explores in the future.”
SYNC boosts resale values
In addition to providing customers with voice control of most entertainment and communications systems in the vehicle, SYNC also pays dividends at resale time.
Ford data analysis shows that SYNC-equipped models of the 2008 Focus are worth more than those without SYNC. After one year in service, the SYNC-equipped models sell for a $240 premium on average. With another year in service added, the SYNC premium is still a significant $200. Ford’s ability to isolate SYNC and attach a resale value to the optional system is based on a company-exclusive statistical VIN-decoding vehicle option residual impact modeling strategy.
The increased transaction price for pre-owned vehicles equipped with SYNC reflects market demand for the feature. In a recent study of Ford SYNC-equipped vehicle owners, one-third of respondents indicated that SYNC played an important role in their purchase decision.
Another reason for the added value is likely due to Ford continuously improving SYNC, year after year, without raising the option price of $395. First launched on 2008 models, including the Focus, Ford has added valuable new capabilities each model year since. For 2009 models, Ford added the 911 Assist™ and Vehicle Health Report applications, at no added cost for the life of the vehicle.
• 911 Assist can place a call directly to a local 911 emergency operator in the event of an accident involving the activation of an air bag or, on certain vehicles, the emergency fuel pump shutoff. If an occupant cannot respond, SYNC can deliver a recorded message to the 911 service to alert an operator that a crash has occurred.
• Vehicle Health Report gives customers the ability to monitor and manage their vehicle’s health in a single, easy-to-read report and receive important notifications. The report includes diagnostic systems’ statuses, scheduled maintenance, needed repairs from the last dealership visit, and will even alert owners of any open recalls.
In fact, those first 2008 models can be upgraded with these applications with a quick visit to their local dealers, thus adding unexpected value to the vehicle.
For 2010 models, Ford improved SYNC even further with the addition of a GPS receiver integrated into the vehicle, thus creating the opportunity to offer location-based services through the Traffic, Directions & Information (TDI) app. TDI can deliver personalized traffic reports, precise turn-by-turn driving directions and up-to-date information including business listings, news, sports and weather – without the need for a built-in or aftermarket navigation system.
SYNC Traffic, Directions & Information services are free for the first three years of vehicle ownership, and only $60 per year after that, delivering capabilities, features and affordability that rival competitors’ embedded telematics and navigation systems.
SYNC satisfaction remains high
Among Ford customers who have SYNC on their vehicles – and use its voice command features – 87 percent are satisfied with how the system operates, and 88 percent would recommend the purchase of a vehicle with SYNC to others.
So what do SYNC users take advantage of most? Hands-free calling is used daily by two-thirds of study respondents, with 89 percent using the feature at least once a week. More than half use the voice-activated dialing features available through SYNC, helping drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel.
Use of the Traffic, Directions & Information application is also on the increase. Among users aware of the feature, up to 39 percent are taking advantage of the turn-by-turn directions, local business search and real-time traffic services.