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July 15, 2011 Autos Insider | Chrysler also backs hand-held cellphone ban for drivers | The Detroit News

Chrysler also backs hand-held cellphone ban for drivers



Chrysler Group LLC said today it supports a federal ban on drivers using hand-held cellphones behind the wheel for calls or texting - becoming the second automaker to do so.

The Auburn Hills automaker said it supports the "Safe Drivers Act of 2011" — a bill introduced by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y. — "and applauds the bill's goal of prohibiting the use of hand-held mobile devices while driving."


Ford Motor Co. became the first automaker to back the bill this week. Verizon Wireless also has endorsed the bill.

Chrysler said it "has a strong history of addressing distracted driving, and we are proactively designing our vehicles and educating our customers on the importance of staying focused on the road. This legislation addresses the fact that a driver's primary responsibility is to be in control of their vehicle; texting while driving clearly interferes with that responsibility."

In 2009, Chrysler became the first automaker to establish a corporate policy prohibiting texting while driving, the company said.

The automaker — then a unit of DaimlerChrysler AG — in 2003 was the first North American automaker to introduce Bluetooth technology in vehicles, enabling hands-free phone use.

Automakers have been adding new vehicle technologies in recent years. General Motors Co. has tested a system that allows drivers to orally update their Facebook status or have updates read to them.

Ford has been eager to protect its in-vehicle technologies — such as Sync and MyFord Touch — that allow drivers to make hands-free calls and receive or send some limited text messages orally.

Nine states and the District of Colombia have barred the use of hand-held cellphones by drivers. The Governors Highway Safety Association last week told states that haven't banned their use to hold off until further research is completed.

Ford has taken other steps to reduce distracted driving. The automaker has been concerned about efforts by some to crack down on in-vehicle technologies that allow drivers to make and receive hands-free cellphone calls.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has urged drivers not to use hand-held phones behind the wheel and raised concerns about cognitive distractions from calls. But he won't recommend any restrictions on hands-free calls until the government completes extensive research.

"When you look at your BlackBerry for four seconds, you are driving the length of a football field without watching the road. And when you talk on your cellphone, you tell your brain it's OK to devote your primary attention to something other than your driving," LaHood wrote on a government blog last year.

GM declined to endorse the bill earlier this week.

But GM —like most automakers — bar employees driving company cars from using a hand-held cellphone behind the wheel and has supported Oprah Winfrey's efforts to crack down on hand-held cellphone use.

"GM has been way out in front for years, among our employees, states and consumers, with a simple message of put the phone down and drive," GM spokesman Greg Martin said. "We're still doing our part, but we're not certain what meaningful effect a federal ban would have at this time as these issues typically reside with state and local enforcement."

McCarthy's bill requires the Transportation Department to conduct a study on distracted driving, focusing particularly on the issue of cognitive distraction and the impact of distraction on young and inexperienced drivers.

In two years, the department must report the findings of this study to Congress and provide recommendations for revising the minimum dis
tracted driving prohibitions and penalties states must comply with.

The bill would require the government to set minimum standards banning the use of hand-held mobile devices on a public road while operating a moving or idling motor vehicle, except in the case of an emergency. There are exclusions, including voice-operated, vehicle-integrated devices, as well as voice-operated GPS systems.

The penalty for not complying with the government's minimum standards within two years of enactment would be a withholding of 25 percent of a state's federal highway transportation funding.

The legislation is modeled after the nation's federal Blood Alcohol Content standard, the violation of which also results in a withholding of federal transportation funds.
 

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Since we, the taxpayers, bailed them out, the least they could do for all of their loyal customers is to give them a rebate if they have uconnect already installed, or for those with out, give those customers an incentive to have uconnect installed. Good for us, good for Chrysler - everyone wins.
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Since we, the taxpayers, bailed them out, the least they could do for all of their loyal customers is to give them a rebate if they have uconnect already installed, or for those with out, give those customers an incentive to have uconnect installed. Good for us, good for Chrysler - everyone wins.
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After having "Hands-Free" in our last three vehicles I believe it should become a mandatory requirement for safety. What gets me is some really expensive autos driving all-over-the-place, only to find the driver using his cell phone so he or she can not signal or stay in their own lane. I always wonder if the vehicle doesn't have that option installed, but not activated, or why they have not installed an aftermarket kit?

My Wife likes her Ford Sync System for reminding her she has left her phone in the house, and it is not connected as she back out the driveway!

 

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When I purchased my Commander, it had uconnect, but I did not use it for the first 6 months! The whole center section of the owners manual was devoted to how to make it work. I think I was afraid of "new technology". Well, I bit the bullet and decided to give it a try - piece of cake - all voice activated. Now, I can't live with out it! The unit in the Commander was the first generation. It did not sync with my phone other than to make and receive calls. I had to build a phone book which resided in the unit, and it did not use the full display area of my 6 disc radio. This is why I have been so anal about getting uconnect installed in the Nitro. What a world of difference this new unit is. It uses the whole radio display, plus it syncs with everything in my phone. I am ecstatic! I had steering wheel controls in the Commander and never used them. This new uconnect controls the radio by my voice; who needs steering wheel buttons? It would be nice to get a rebate check from Chrysler!
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Ford bringing SYNC systems to base trim levels, drops from $395 to $295



08/01/2011

Ford's been pushing SYNC in its autos since 2007, but you wouldn't have known it had you opted for the base trim level on your ride. Thankfully for those who appreciate the basics, that's a-changing. The automaker is aiming to entice more potential owners by offering the voice-activated infotainment systems across all levels for $295 (down from $395, where optional), starting with its 2012 Edge and Explorer models. To sweeten the deal even further, it'll also become standard on SEL variants for the first time -- before, it was a luxury previously reserved for Limited and Sport. Ford plans to roll out the system across its entire lineup in three years time, bringing the 2013 Ford Taurus, Focus, Escape and Flex into the fold. You know, options for all of you who aren't hip on the all-American, gas-guzzling SUV.

Source


Ford Drops Price of SYNC by $100, Making Hands-Free, Voice-Activated In-Car Connectivity More Affordable, Available to All

Ford initiates new pricing strategy for SYNC®, making the hands-free, voice-activated connectivity system more affordable for customers; dropping option price to $295 makes SYNC the most capable and most affordable system on the market

Launching first on the 2012 Ford Explorer and Edge, SYNC will now be available as optional equipment on base trim levels, marking broader availability and more choice for customers

Making hands-free technology more affordable and available comes on the heels of Ford becoming the first automaker to announce its support for a nationwide ban on the use of hand-held mobile devices while driving

DEARBORN, Mich., August 1, 2011 – Ford is making hands-free, voice-controlled in-car connectivity even more affordable, announcing both a $100 price drop for Ford SYNC® along with expanded availability by offering it as an option on base trim levels for the first time.

"Ford SYNC is making a difference. Our customers love it and recommend it, and our dealers want it on more products," said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. "SYNC already has brought hands-free, voice-activated in-car connectivity to millions, helping keep drivers' eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Now, Ford is making it even easier for customers to afford exactly what they want."

The move marks the company's latest push to make voice control the primary and safest way for customers to access their favorite mobile devices while driving – a capability more and more drivers are clamoring for, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

In a 2010 study, the CEA found that 55 percent of smartphone owners, for example, prefer voice commands as their primary in-car user interface. SYNC users agree, with internal Ford research showing more than 85 percent say they use voice controls while driving, up from 60 percent 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.

The new SYNC pricing and choice strategy for 2012 ups the ante on how Ford is translating this trend into real-world actions that offer smarter in-vehicle connectivity solutions for customers.

"As the list of states banning hand-held calls and texting while driving continues to grow and legislators ponder a nationwide ban, Ford is strengthening its leadership position as the only full-line automaker with plans to offer available hands-free mobile device connectivity on 100 percent of its passenger vehicle lineup," said Czubay.

SYNC has been installed already on more than 3 million vehicles since its debut in 2007.

The new pricing strategy makes SYNC the most capable and most affordable in-car connectivity system in the industry. The new pricing will be available first on the 2012 Ford Explorer and Edge base models. Customers who opt for SYNC will pay only $295 for the award-winning in-car connectivity system, previously priced at $395. In addition, SYNC will now be available on all trim levels, as the availability chart of the 2012 Ford Edge shows:

Ford Edge Trim Level

2011 Model SYNC Availability
SE: Not available
SEL: Optional
Limited: Standard
Sport: Standard

2012 Model SYNC Availability
SE: Optional
SEL: Standard
Limited: Standard
Sport: Standard

With the base SYNC package, customers will enjoy the core hands-free features and services that have quickly established SYNC as a must-have technology, with more than 76 percent of current SYNC users saying they would recommend the system to other customers. Those features 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
Vehicle Health Report, the 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 only $60 a year, besting the telematics services offered by the competition.

Ford dealers are excited about the prospect of being able to offer SYNC to a larger population of their customers.

James T. Seavitt, president of Village Ford in Dearborn, Mich., says he wouldn't be surprised to see those rates soar even higher with the new SYNC pricing and base model availability. Seavitt admits that approximately 75 percent of the vehicles he currently sells have SYNC.

"Customers frequently ask about SYNC in our dealership as they continue to hear more about the benefits and convenience of hands-free connectivity while driving," said Seavitt. "This move from Ford will help dealers put more customers in SYNC-equipped vehicles so they can experience why using their voice to control their favorite mobile devices in the car is a smarter choice."
On Edge and Explorer alone, SYNC has already been a big hit on the showroom floor, with current take rates above 80 percent. With the new pricing strategy, SYNC is now expected to be installed on more than 95 percent of models sold.

During the next three years, Ford will introduce the new SYNC pricing and choice strategy across the entire 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.

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PRESS RELEASE
 

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Everytime I read about SYNC or MyFordTouch, there seem to be issues - slow to react, touch buttons don't work, etc. I just read an article where the whole unit froze - it had to be reset by disconnecting the battery. When the unit rebooted, there was a Microsoft logo - now I know why there are issues!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Having such a unit with GPS in my Wife's 2010 Ford Taurus Limited I must agree it does seem too complicated, but have never had an issue with it. Some really neat features like "Live" weather radar maps and better traffic conditions reports, but you have to find them to use them. Wife does know how to use voice commands, but I like the 2007 Nitro interface that requires touch screen commands, myself. I understand many have said their units are hard to use, and Ford is on record stating they plan to simplify SYNC in future models. I have downloaded updates to her unit and installed them with a memory stick. Chrysler's 2011's complete new system I'm sure is an improvement over what I have.
 
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