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Ford Focus Gets N'Sync via Microsoft System

At the recently held North American International Auto Show media preview, Ford Motor Company unleashed its frontier in auto communication, information and entertainment. The new technology is called the Ford-Microsoft Sync system, based on the Microsoft Auto. The Sync offers centralized, wireless, voice-operated manager for phone calls, digital music, text messaging and other computer functions.

Ford has the exclusive right to the Sync technology through the end of 2008. The automaker intends to integrate the system in 12 of its vehicles included in the 2008 lineup. Fusion, Five Hundred, Edge, Freestyle, Explorer, Sport Trac and Ford parts will be upgraded to blend with the new auto processing system. Other vehicles created by the company but sold under other brands will also be modified to adjust with the n'sync auto revolution. Mercury car parts for Milan, Montego and Mountaineer will also be equipped with the frontier system. In addition, Ford will incorporate the Sync system to its Lincoln vehicles. 2008 MKX and MKZ vehicles will most likely benefit from this new technology from the automaker.

Ford has not divulged the price tag that this optional feature will be having. However, it was reported by the Associated Press that it is likely to cost less than ,000 which is about the value of an advanced desktop computer. With the introduction of said technology, critics in the industry draw their respective assumptions. David Cole, president of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, said if Ford charges too little for the Sync, it may never be able to increase the price. And if Ford goes too high, too few people will choose the option. Cole said, "It's better to start high and edge the price down." He called the new system "an absolute dynamite announcement ... maybe one of the most important at the show."

Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, gave hints about the price of Sync. He said, "I won't give out specific pricing other than to say we've done a lot of research and it's going to be a real good value for customers. We (referring to Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman) have a specific business arrangement. I won't go into details. But clearly, Microsoft looks at this as a business opportunity, as we do. So there will be some type of sharing there."

Ford is really aiming to move forward as suggested by its campaign. However, the automaker could not deny the fact that auto competition is also moving tougher each day. The aging Focus and the slow-selling Five Hundred is quite difficult to boost. According to Lon Zaback, chief designer of the Focus, "Certainly there's pressure." However, he added on the optimistic note, "I don't feel any anxiety about it at all because I think we've done a terrific job."

Critics in the auto industry are comparing the new Focus with other brands. Erich Merkle, director of forecasting for the auto consulting company IRN Inc. in Grand Rapids, said the new Focus, for instance, still doesn't look as modern as Honda's Civic, which he considers to be the gold standard for small cars. "It's a step forward, but it's not a dramatic leap. Unfortunately the competition is really moving forward in that segment." Cadillac Escalade parts are also showcasing great potentials in auto breakthroughs and innovations. However, Beth Donovan, Ford's small car marketing manager said, "Our mind-set hasn't changed regardless of what our financial position is. We want to win."

About the Author: Corey Putton is a 28-year old bachelor from Pittsburgh, PA who has been around cars for the better part of his life. He now works online and writes all about his passion: cars. He is also a certified mechanic.

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