Initially on sale in Germany, the system will capitalise on Vodafone's network services and technical capabilities across the continent and will initially offer roadside assistance, traffic information and a voice controlled phone service. An emergency assistance feature will also be included that connects the driver with the emergency services, automatically alerting them if the airbag is deployed, while the integrated GPS system identifies the vehicle's location.
Four buttons on the front panel of the car's stereo system allow drivers access to the main features in the Focus. Drivers are directly linked to the Ford telematics operator, which provides route information and tips on avoiding traffic congestion. It can also locate services such as petrol stations, hotels or attractions. Other functions include an interactive voice interface enabling the driver or passenger to make phone calls. And by using the latest voice-to-speech technology, the system recognises spoken phone numbers as well as the names of previously entered contacts.
Eventually the system will be extended to offer drivers information including news, stock quotes, and weather updates. The German Ford/Vodafone set-up is available as an option on the Ford Focus together with the Audiosystem 5000 for 1,650 DM (845 Euros) or about £528, with calls to the traffic information service charged at a premium rate.
- FORD'S new e-commerce channel Ford Journey is introducing two new models on its website. Visitors to www.fordjourney.com will be now able to buy Galaxys and Mondeos online.
The Focus, Puma, Fiesta and Ka have been available online since last year. The site offers visitors an online Ford Credit finance calculator to help drivers arrange their own terms and deposits.