Focussing on in-car telematics

Ford of Europe and Vodafone have formed a strategic partnership to provide in-car telematic services in Europe.

D2 Vodafone in Germany and Vodafone UK, two subsidiaries of Vodafone Group, have signed agreements to join forces with Ford of Europe to bring voice-driven telematic safety, security and information services to customers across Europe.

This new service will be launched in the German market from next month, where, through the D2 Vodafone network, it will be offered as an option on Ford Focus.

The service will be next launched in the UK using Vodafone, with other European markets following suit.

David Thursfield, President and CEO, Ford of Europe said that he anticipated that within five years nearly all new Ford vehicles will be fitted with some type of telematics system.

The system, using network services and technical capabilities provided by Vodafone Group and its networks across the continent, will include integrated GSM cellular and Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, via an in-built telematics unit.

Initially featuring emergency and roadside assistance, traffic information, dynamic re-routing as well as an operator and voice controlled service, the telematics system will later be extended to offer drivers personalised information including news, stock quotes, weather, and messaging.

The main telematic functions are accessed via four buttons integrated into the front panel of the stereo system in the Ford Focus. The SOS button connects the driver with the emergency services, who will also be automatically alerted if the airbag is deployed.

The integrated Global Positioning System (GPS) identifies the vehicle’s location to the emergency services. Button two provides a direct link to the Ford Telematics Operator services, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing personal information concerning route information, tips to avoid traffic congestion or location of services such as petrol stations, hotels or local attractions.

Other functions include automatic retrieval of local traffic information and an interactive voice interface enabling the driver or passenger to make phone calls and access personalised information.

Using voice recognition and text to speech technology, the system recognises spoken phone numbers as well as the names of previously entered contacts.

The telematics communications and information services will be linked to a customisable homepage that can be accessed via the Internet, enabling drivers to personalise the information and contacts they wish to access while they are in their car.