Ford expands in-vehicle connectivity in Europe with Ecosport SUV
By C.C. Weiss
February 25, 2013
With its SYNC AppLink feature available on various models in the U.S. for a couple of years now, Ford has announced the all-new Ecosport SUV will become one of the company's pioneers in offering the technology in Europe. And Ford didn't waste time waiting for the Geneva Motor Show to make the announcement, choosing to introduce the crossover at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The Ecosport's Mobile World Congress debut is the latest example of a growing trend whereby automakers use electronics shows, not just auto shows, to highlight their latest vehicles and technologies. Ford chose to unveil its all-electric Focus at CES 2011 and became the first automaker to debut a car at Mobile World Congress last year with its B-MAX.
"We are entering the age of the connected car, and debuting EcoSport at Mobile World Congress underlines just how important advanced vehicle technology is to customers and to Ford," explained Paul Mascarenas, Ford chief technical officer and vice president of research and innovation. "The role of the car is evolving. Customers want to be able to safely enjoy the same level of connectivity in their cars as they would do at home, and SYNC AppLink enables them to do just that."
SYNC AppLink works with select smartphones (BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android phones) to allow control of approved applications using the car's steering wheel buttons, radio, or voice commands. Compatible applications in the U.S. include Pandora radio, Glympse location sharing and MLB At Bat.
Ford also added Spotify radio to its growing list of available applications this week, saying that it will be its first music provider app for the European market. Spotify will also be available to North American AppLink users.
Beyond the infotainment screen, the Ecosport is a small crossover with a short nose, raked front pillars and angular headlamps. It rides on Ford's global B-segment platform, shared with the likes of the Fiesta. The "Eco" designation is justified by small engine options like the 123-hp 1.0-liter Ecoboost, 108-hp 1.5-liter gas engine and 89-hp 1.5-liter diesel. Safety features include electronic stability and hill launch assist.
Ford has said previously that the Ecosport will hit the European market by March 2014.