Ford announced both a $100 price cut for Ford SYNC, its hands-free, voice-activated connectivity system, along with expanded availability by offering it as an option on base trim levels for the first time.
The move marks the company’s latest push to make voice control the primary and safest way for customers to access their mobile devices while driving—a capability more drivers are requesting, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).
In a 2010 study, the CEA found that 55% of smartphone owners, for example, prefer voice commands as their primary in-car user interface. Internal Ford research shows that more than 85% of SYNC users use voice controls while driving, up from 60% in previous studies.
This month, Ford became the first automaker to openly support the Safe Drivers Act of 2011, proposed federal legislation for a nationwide ban on the use of hand-held mobile devices while driving. To date, 10 states, including California and New York, have legally banned talking on a hand-held cellphone while driving, with many local municipalities also following suit enacting their own set of restrictions. Text messaging while driving is banned in 34 states.
SYNC has been installed already on more than 3 million vehicles since its debut in 2007.
The new pricing will be available first on the 2012 Ford Explorer and Edge base models. Customers who opt for SYNC will pay $295 for the in-car connectivity system, previously priced at $395. In addition, SYNC will now be available on all trim levels.
Core hands-free features and services of the base SYNC package include:
- Hands-free, voice-activated calling via a Bluetooth-connected mobile phone;
- Hands-free, voice-activated control of a USB-connected digital music player;
- 911 Assist, the automated emergency calling service that is free for the life of the vehicle; and
- Vehicle Health Report, an on-demand diagnostic and maintenance information service.
In addition, customers who choose the base package will have the option to purchase a SYNC Services subscription, which expands voice-controlled features to include a cloud-based network of services. These include turn-by-turn directions, traffic reports, and business search information with available live operator assistance if needed. A SYNC Services subscription costs $60 a year.
During the next three years, Ford will introduce the new SYNC pricing and choice strategy across its full North American Ford vehicle lineup. Vehicles next in line after the 2012 Ford Explorer and Edge include the 2013 Ford Taurus, Focus, Escape and Flex.