Ford drives towards all-digital in-car entertainment
Cassette tapes that once revolutionised in-car audio entertainment were driven out of the dashboard by the compact disc revolution.
Now in-car CD players are poised to follow a similar path as Essex-based carmaker Ford and other automotive companies respond to customer demand for all-digital systems with increased connectivity.
With the all-new Ford Focus, Ford has scrapped once-popular multi-disc CD changers, while a USB connection and Bluetooth are standard equipment in the UK – both of which cater to the increasing popularity of iPods and other digital music players.
“In-car entertainment technology is moving digital more rapidly than almost any other element of the vehicle experience,” said Sheryl Connelly, global trends and futuring manager, Ford Motor Company.
“The in-car CD player – much like pay telephones – is destined to fade away in the face of exciting new technology.”
The British Phonographic Industry says the number of CD albums sold in the UK fell 35 per cent between 2006 and 2010, while the number of digital album sales increased more than seven-fold.
As music-lovers migrate their CD catalogues to digital storage and move to digital download music buying, Ford plans a targeted move towards all-digital in-car entertainment.
Across Europe, Ford currently offers USB and Bluetooth audio connectivity, as well as auxiliary inputs for MP3 devices, to supplement the existing CD player. But as CD usage becomes less prevalent, these digital devices will become the norm.
“Ford will obviously continue to offer CD players while there is demand,” said Ralf Brosig, multimedia manager, Ford of Europe. “However, over time we expect customer preferences will lead us quickly into an all-digital approach to in-car audio entertainment.”
Ford will take a big step forward with the arrival of the advanced SYNC with MyFord Touch system in Europe, arriving first in the Ford Focus.
The system will cater directly to the demands of Ford’s tech-savvy customers, offering a sophisticated multimedia infotainment hub providing connectivity options including multiple USB inputs, SD card ports, RCA inputs and Bluetooth connectivity.
The system also will act as a password-protected wireless hotspot for up to five devices, providing connectivity through USB or mobile phone broadband modems.
This capability will potentially allow access to cloud computing services such as the recently unveiled Apple iCloud, Amazon Cloud Drive and Google Music, eliminating the need to carry music storage devices in the vehicle. Ford expects two million SYNC equipped vehicles to be on the road in Europe by 2015.