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SYNC 3 drives into SA

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The latest generation of Ford’s communications and entertainment system is set to make its South African debut this year when the high-tech new Sync 3 is launched on the Ford Kuga, Mustang, Ranger and Everest.

Ford Sync already enables drivers of 15-million vehicles worldwide to voice-activate essential in-car features, greatly improving ease of access to numerous phone and multimedia functions. The system has also made a significant contribution to driving safety, enabling drivers to remain focused on the road while accessing the vast range of available communication and multimedia features.

“Sync3 brings to life even more innovative new ways of staying connected on the move,” says Tracey Delate, General Manager, Marketing – Ford Motor Company Sub-Saharan Africa Region. “Designed to complement modern smartphones, with an intuitive touch screen and an exciting array of new features, Sync3 understands even more conversational speech commands, is significantly faster and offers a higher resolution interface that is simpler, and easier to read and use than the outgoing Sync2 system.”

For the third-generation system, Ford has drawn on more than 22 000 comments and insights gained from research clinics and surveys to ensure the new version is the most customer-centric designed system to date, and is a convincing successor to Sync 2. Sync 1 will remain a core entry-level audio system for selected Ford models and will continue to offer Bluetooth with Voice Activation and extensive mobile and multimedia device integration.

Simplifying the user experience by putting the audio and phone options customers use most at their fingertips, Sync 3 has been further improved through increased processing power and a reduction in the number of steps required for a command.

With pinch-to-zoom and swipe gestures, Sync 3 provides customers with a high definition experience of the eight-inch touch screen that is similar to smartphone screens, thus making it easier and more intuitive to use.

Smartphone integration has been stepped up with several fantastic new features, including Apple CarPlay, which allows iPhone users to make phone calls, access music, send and receive text messages, and get directions optimised for traffic conditions via voice control while the drivers’ eyes stay focused on the road. The system is also compatible with Siri Eyes Free which allows for easy access to Siri with iPhones connected via Bluetooth.

Android users will be able to activate Android Auto, which makes the platform’s apps and services such as Google Search, Google Maps and Google Play Music accessible in a safe and seamless manner through Sync3.

Additionally, using Ford’s built-in voice control, the driver can access all the suites of services available through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto simply by using voice commands

To keep the system up to date, periodic over-the-air software updates for Sync3 can be downloaded via Wi-Fi, once it is set up on a trusted wireless network.

“The fantastic new features and functionality launched with Sync3 makes it one of the most comprehensive and easy to use in-car communication and entertainment systems of its kind,” Delate says.

“Some of the licenses for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are still being finalised for official release in the collective Middle East and Africa region, and therefore will be introduced as they become available in market.”

There will be a progressive roll-out of Sync 3 for the 2017 model year across the relevant nameplates – either as a standard feature on selected derivatives, or as an option.

For the first time in South Africa, navigation will also be offered with Sync3 from early 2017, either as standard equipment, or as an optional extra, depending on applicable model range and derivative. This feature will be introduced in phases across selected Ford models in 2017.

Notably for South African customers, the language choices for Sync 3 navigation comprise English, Zulu and Afrikaans.

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Body-tracking tech moves to assembly line

Technology typically used by the world’s top sport stars to raise their game, or ensure their signature skills are accurately replicated in leading video games, is now being used on an auto assembly line.

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Employees at Ford’s Valencia Engine Assembly Plant, in Spain, are using a special suit equipped with advanced body tracking technology. The pilot system, created by Ford and the Instituto Biomecánica de Valencia, has involved 70 employees in 21 work areas. 

Player motion technology usually records how athletes sprint or turn, enabling sport coaches or game developers to unlock the potential of sport stars in the real world or on screen. Ford is using it to design less physically stressful workstations for enhanced manufacturing quality.

“It’s been proven on the sports field that with motion tracking technology, tiny adjustments to the way you move can have a huge benefit,” said Javier Gisbert, production area manager, Ford Valencia Engine Assembly Plant. “For our employees, changes made to work areas using similar technology can ultimately ensure that, even on a long day, they are able to work comfortably.”

Engineers took inspiration from a suit they saw at a trade fair that demonstrated how robots could replicate human movement and then applied it to their workplace, where production of the  new Ford Transit Connect and 2.0-litre EcoBoost Duratec engines began this month.

The skin-tight suit consists of 15 tiny movement tracking light sensors connected to a wireless detection unit. The system tracks how the person moves at work, highlighting head, neck, shoulder and limb movements. Movement is recorded by four specialised motion-tracking cameras – similar to those usually paired with computer game consoles – placed near the worker and captured as a 3D skeletal character animation of the user.

Specially trained ergonomists then use the data to help employees align their posture correctly. Measurements captured by the system, such as an employee’s height or arm length, are used to design workstations, so they better fit employees. 

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Electric cars begin to bridge the luxury gap

A new era has dawned as electric mobility bridges the gap between luxury and necessity, writes TREVOR HILL – head of Audi South Africa.

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Mobility is essential to today’s world. We travel to get to work, to go shopping, and to meet friends and family – in short, effective transport impacts on all aspects of our modern lives. Access to mobility is critical to economic growth and progress, bringing more opportunities and better productivity. At the same time however, growing environmental concerns and a looming shortage of fossil fuels have created tension between our ever-growing demand for mobility and the health of our planet.

Growing populations, increasing urbanization and economic and social development mean that there are more cars on our roads each day. The knock-on effects of this are greater levels of congestion and longer times spent commuting, which means more stress and higher levels of aggression on the road. Skyrocketing levels of air pollution – to which transportation is one of the leading contributors – has negative effects on both health and climate change, both of which are key issues in global policy agendas.

So, the writing has been on the wall for some time. The gold standard in automotive technological progress has thus been to achieve a radical reduction of engine emissions and the development of electric cars has been at the forefront of this charge. We have now entered the beginning of a new era, as more and more of these vehicles take to the roads. Electric cars are now at the cusp of the mass market, with a steady stream of new models set to reach the consumer in future. Last week, we launched the Audi e-tron, our first all-electric-drive SUV, at a world premiere in San Francisco – one huge leap forward in pursuit of our goal. Audi will also bring more than 20 electrified models to the market by 2025, from the compact class to the full-size category. Around a dozen models will be all-electric, while the remainder will be plug-in hybrids for emission-free driving on shorter journeys.

Powering this development is ongoing improvement in battery technology, with increasing energy density and lengthened driving ranges possible between charges. Consumers have noted that they feel confident using electric cars for day-to-day use once battery technology can sustain a driving range of 300 or more kilometres, which is now possible. The Audi e-tron has a range of 400 kilometers, making it ideal for long distance driving. Drivers who charge the e-tron overnight can set off in the morning in full confidence that they won’t need to stop at a charging station as they go about their day.

What this technological progress also means however, is that the levels of power and performance achieved by an electric car draw ever closer to those of traditional engines. For anyone who loves high strung, powerful engines and the rush of adrenaline that comes from flooring the throttle on an empty stretch of road, this is no small thing.  At Audi, we are lucky to be surrounded by some of the most exceptional engines ever produced, so few people understand the thrill of an extraordinary driving experience better than we do. So, the holy grail is to achieve this same performance with vastly improved economy.

The Audi e-tron’s electric drive has two asynchronous motors, one at the front, one at the rear, with a total output of 300 kW of power. This allows the Audi e-tron to accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in just 5.7 seconds.

The next step will be the development of electric cars suitable for those who regularly drive long distances, entailing further advances in battery technology, and the development of a network of charging stations across the country. The battery for the Audi e-tron is designed to last the entire life cycle of the vehicle. When charged at a high-power charging station at up to 150 kW, the Audi e-tron can be restored to 80% in less than half an hour. At 22 kW, the Audi e-tron can charge its battery to 100% in around four and a half hours.

For city dwellers, however, the age of electric mobility has well and truly arrived. Rapid advances in technology continue to drive progress; the rise of electric cars is only one of many developments set to transform transportation as we know it, heralding a cleaner, more efficient future.

 

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