A new in-car infotainment system jointly developed by Ford Motor and Microsoft was showcased at the Auto China 2012 held recently in Beijing. The all-new Ford Focus model features the Ford SYNC system, powered by Windows Embedded Automotive software platform.
SYNC is voice-controlled and the Ford Focus model launched in China features Mandarin interfacing language which recognises accents from 13 provinces from China. Ford said, though, that the infotainment system is multilingual, including the English language.
Ford said more car models are due for launch in the China market soon, all featuring the new infotainment system. The China market can expect these new SYNC-powered cars soon after Ford recently invested US$760 million for a new assembly plant in Hangzhou, China. By the time the plant opens in 2015, 15 new SYNC-powered vehicles will be introduced in China.
"The Chinese auto market remains one of the most vibrant in the world," said Dave Schoch, chairman and CEO, Ford China. "This expansion will allow Ford to deliver on our aggressive plan to bring 15 new vehicles and 20 new powertrains to China by 2015, giving Chinese consumers more choice in Ford's next generation of high-quality, fuel-efficient, fun-to-drive vehicles."
Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford Asia Pacific and Africa, said Ford's investment in China is expected to contribute significantly to global sales.
"So far, Ford's investments in China and across Asia represent its largest and most rapid global expansion in 50 years. This expansion will help us realise an increase in global sales by about 50 percent from 2010 to about eight million vehicles annually by mid-decade. Building new manufacturing plants in China helps lay the foundation for that growth and reconfirms our commitment to China, and we expect to have sales of about 30 million vehicles by 2020 as a result."
Ford said the China market is significant for car manufacturing with infotainment systems because of the huge number of Internet and mobile phone users in the country. It is estimated that there are more than 500 million Internet users and one billion mobile phone users in China. Yet, owning a car is a relatively new experience for Chinese citizens.
The car manufacturer said it is "taking steps to ensure it offers something the automaker likes to call a "connected car experience" to the Chinese consumer with an expanded and fresh lineup of new vehicles.
According to the Microsoft website, Ford introduced SYNC in March 2007 and a second-generation SYNC was introduced in August 2010. Ford and Microsoft have been working on the Windows Embedded infotainment system since the mid-2000.
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