The B-MAX will be the first vehicle in Europe to feature SYNC, Ford’s voice-activated in-car connectivity system, the company has revealed after unveiling the all-new car at the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Photograph by Tim Bishop/Ford of Europe

SYNC already features on 4 million cars in the U.S., and its introduction to Europe in one of the most affordable vehicles in Ford’s European range will help take the company a significant step further towards its target of 13 SYNC million customers by 2015. In total, Ford expects to have more than 3.5 million SYNC-enabled vehicles on the roads of Europe by 2015.

“The all-new Ford B-MAX is at the forefront of Ford’s plans to deliver SYNC to customers in Europe for the first time, and is the perfect vehicle for the job,” said Stephen Odell, chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe.
Ford’s Emergency Assistance feature alerts local emergency services operators after an accident, in the correct language for the region, and is the most advanced system of its type. It will be available in more than 30 countries across Europe and beyond.

During the development of the Emergency Assistance feature Ford worked with the European Emergency Number Association (EENA), gaining valuable input into the system design. The EENA aims to ensure a consistently high level of response to 112 emergency number calls across Europe.

“We are pleased that Ford has consulted with the EENA and European emergency call centres in the development of the Emergency Assistance feature,” said Gary Machado, executive director of the EENA.

“We are confident that solutions enabling vehicles to be connected to emergency call centres will contribute to saving lives in Europe.”

The activation of an airbag or the vehicle’s emergency fuel pump shut-off prompts the vehicle to initiate an emergency call, using a pre-recorded message, through the occupant’s Bluetooth connected mobile phone. The message is transmitted in the appropriate local language based on the GPS coordinates of the vehicle.

“Ford’s Emergency Assistance feature will deliver significant additional peace-of-mind to B-MAX customers,” said Paul Mascarenas, Ford’s chief technical officer and vice president, Research and Innovation. “It will also do so at no extra cost to the user for the lifetime of the vehicle and without requiring a subscription or registration, unlike competitor systems.”

SYNC can also read aloud incoming SMS text messages from compatible mobile phones. It works with a variety of digital music players, including iPod and USB flash drives. The system automatically updates phonebook entries, while audio files can be browsed by genre, artist, album, song and playlist using simple voice commands. The USB port also enables the implementation of software upgrades for future enhancements and features.

Developed in association with speech technology specialist Nuance, SYNC will initially support UK English, EU French, EU Spanish, EU Portuguese, German, Italian, Turkish, Dutch and Russian; with users able to issue instructions such as “call (contact name)” or “play artist (artist name)”.

SYNC and Emergency Assistance are just two highlights of the class-leading technology package which will be available on the B-MAX. It will also include Ford’s Active City Stop system, which is designed to help motorists avoid low speed collisions with stationary or slower-moving traffic in front, and Hill Start Assist, which helps keep the car from rolling backward after the driver has come to a stop on a slope or hill and Rear View Camera.

The Ford B-MAX will make its automotive show debut at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, in March and go on sale later in the year.

See our Video of Ford SYNC AppLink Controlling Pandora With Your Voice