Car Manufacturers Getting Sirius About Satellite Radio


It’s remarkable to consider that just a few years ago, satellite radio was like cable TV in the earliest days. "Why would I pay for TV?" became "why would I pay for radio?" The answer was clear (pun intended): the broad choice of commercial-free content has become a must-have for any luxury car. Or any car, for that matter — as the latest plans from Ford indicate:

SIRIUS Satellite Radio today announced that Ford and Mercury brands are targeting approximately 70% factory penetration of SIRIUS radios beginning with the 2009 Model Year vehicles, which will be available next year at dealers…

Over 1,000,000 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brand vehicles have already been shipped with factory-installed SIRIUS radios. Lincoln began offering SIRIUS as standard equipment in 2008 Model Year vehicles. Recently, Ford launched SIRIUS on its new Focus. The addition of the Focus brings to 23 the number of Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicle lines offering SIRIUS as factory-installed equipment. SIRIUS equipped vehicles will be packaged with a six-month prepaid subscription.

Land Rover offers SIRIUS as standard equipment on the Range Rover and the Range Rover Sport. Volvo, Jaguar and Mazda offer SIRIUS as a factory or port installed option on various vehicles.

SIRIUS also announced it has signed an agreement with Ford Motor Company that extends its relationship. All Ford brands, including Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Land Rover, Jaguar, Volvo, and Mazda, are covered by the agreement.

The growth of satellite radio isn’t the only change to come to car interiors in the last few years. From GPS to bluetooth, our technical gadgets are becoming increasingly integrated with our automobiles.

In fact, Ford’s new "infotainment system" — the FordSYNC — was developed with Microsoft and was selected a top new technical innovation by Popular Science:

Ford SYNC, developed on the Microsoft Auto software platform, provides consumers the convenience and flexibility to bring digital media players – Apple iPods, Microsoft Zunes and other MP3 players – and Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones into their vehicles and operate the devices via voice commands or with the steering wheel’s redundant radio controls.

SYNC is making in-car connectivity more affordable and more widely available than ever before. It will be available on 12 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products this year and on nearly all Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products by the end of 2008.

FordSYNC is a response to Chrysler’s Siruius-integrated MyGIG system, which we blogged about in June. Though neither system, in our eyes, has quite matched the interface of Volkswagen’s system, which we blogged about just last week

Still, if you like building cars online as a way of passing the time when you should be working, the SyncMyRide site lets you play with more than just rims and interior and exterior colors. But the partnering of Microsoft with Ford probably negates the need for a DIY Friday post on how to build a Zune Buggy (see the image at the bottom of this post).

Ford has placed a demonstration video on YouTube for FordSYNC, and you can learn more by watching this interview with designer Gary Jablonski. Or check out this commercial, if you haven’t seen it already:

CNET and Autoweek have also reviewed the system. 

Can’t afford a whole new car just to get Sirius in your ride? Sirius Satellite Radio was in full swing for Cyber Monday, with special offers expiring tomorrow.