As the first Focus Electric gas-free models arrive at dealerships, Ford and Microsoft executives are highlighting the car’s connectivity and recharging technologies as the kind of innovations required to help address global transportation challenges such as congestion and oil dependency.
The executives are joining other technology leaders through Friday at the Future in Review Conference (FiRe), a forum to discuss ways to solve even bigger looming issues such as global gridlock that could happen in major cities if urbanization and vehicle ownership growth continue unchecked.
“Ford and Microsoft continue to demonstrate the importance of marrying automobiles with creative technologies such as the features built into SYNC and MyFord Mobile that help people stay connected to their digital lives,” says Sheryl Connelly, Ford Global Trends manager. “These innovations will be even more important in a future where urbanization and growing vehicle ownership could literally grind major cities to a halt around the world.”
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Meanwhile, Yahoo! and Ford have released a teaser video previewing “Plugged In,” a weekly online reality competition show coinciding with the launch of the all-new 2012 Focus Electric and airing exclusively on Yahoo! Screen.
The program will debut May 29, reaching millions of viewers through Yahoo!’s video destination – Yahoo! Screen – to promote the new Focus Electric, a fuel-efficient five-passenger car.
“Microsoft technology is opening up new possibilities for the connected car in areas that both augment and transcend today’s systems,” says Ben Smith, director of program management for Windows Embedded at Microsoft.
“From using simple voice commands to navigate to the nearest coffee shop or manage the interior temperature, to using the vehicle’s on-board technology to find the most economical place to charge up, Microsoft and Ford are changing the way people interact with their vehicle.”
Ford and Microsoft jointly released the first generation of SYNC in 2007 as part of a shared commitment to creating a better-connected car experience through the Ford SYNC software platform.
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SYNC is one of many technology features available on the gasoline-free 2012 Ford Focus Electric and is shared across Ford’s electrified vehicle lineup. SYNC with MyFord Touch offers multiple ways – including voice commands – for customers to manage and control their phone, navigation, entertainment and climate functions. Plug-in hybrids and all-electric models have additional options for monitoring information like battery state of charge.
Additionally, Ford Focus Electric customers have access to MyFord Mobile, which is accessible via smartphone or Web-based interface to perform key tasks. This mobile application can monitor a vehicle’s state of charge or its current range, locate charge stations and plan routes.
The MyFord Mobile app will be available for use on most major smartphone platforms including Android, BlackBerry and iPhone. The same capabilities can also be accessed through a mobile Web app for other platforms as well as a secure Ford website.
Retail production of Focus Electric began in May at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich. After first being available in California, New York and New Jersey, Focus Electric will be available in 19 markets across the U.S. by summer’s end, nationwide by the end of the year.
Photo courtesy: Ford Motor Company