By on February 17, 2011

Wards Auto reports that Ford now has more dealerships than Chevrolet “for the first time in years.” Not that this is a sign of growth on Ford’s part… it simply cut fewer dealerships (62) last year than Chevy, which wiped out some 372 at the behest of the government and its consultants. Chevy, meanwhile, has struck back at Ford by offering its version of Ford’s SYNC system… some 3 years after Ford built the only real brand in what is now the crowded field of in-car connectivity options. Of course, Chevy hasn’t released a date or price for MyLink sales, but at this point, what’s the rush? Besides, Ray LaHood is going to really roll up his sleeves and take on the “epidemic” of distracted driving any minute now… right?

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32 Comments on “Today In Detroit Rivalries: Ford Takes Dealer Lead, Chevy Takes On SYNC...”


  • avatar

    Oh my. What will our resident Ford hater say now that his beloved Chevrolet is rolling out a system that he believes will get people killed turning on the AC? Oh wait. Just like Ford’s Sync/MyFord Touch, the Chevy MyLink system has voice activation.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Wow, Pandora.  Does Ford offer Pandora through it’s system or do you have to use your “smart phone” and an aux jack?  (Just asking says the guy who’s going to drive 5 hours to Phoenix on Tuseday and will be using his smart phone and the standard aux jack to listen to his Pandora radio.  BTW for anyone who read the seatbelt thread, the colleague in question has taken ill and I’ll be “riddin’ solo.”) 

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      Of course to use Pandora you must have a data plan for wireless internet service to something.  Your smart phone.  Or your car.  I am reluctant to pay for wireless data to both a smart phone and a car.  It will be another $30-$40 a month for each.  The internet providers are going to love this.  You have to pay for internet service to your house, your car, and your smart phone.  $$$

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Dan -
       
      It depends on the vehicle.  You can stream Pandora using the bluetooth audio streaming with any version of Sync on any car right now.  For the vehicles that support Sync AppLink there is a program you can download to your car that lets you control Pandora via the voice commands, and also displays all of the song data on the radio readout just like you were using the built in Sirius.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      @tced2, I’m excited because competition brings down prices.  Right now I would have no reason to have an unlimited data plan in a car but I’m very happy with unlimited data on my cell phone.  I pay nothing for the first 40hrs of Pandora, $1 for unlimited listening for the rest of the month after those have expired, or could get unlimited with no advertising for <$40 for the whole year.  As long as I have a signal, XM or Sirus can kiss my butt. 

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The way things are going I think we are moving towards eventually having mobile phones being the standard data connection for all devices.  You are right that there is no need now for a car to have a separate connection – just pair your phone up and use that connection.  Some of the upcoming wireless data technologies actually offer higher throughput than traditional wired broadband like cable modems or DSL.  For the most part the wireless companies are being reluctant to offer real unlimited data (pretty much everyone limits 3G even if they don’t explicitly state the limits, and have various rules for what happens after you go over state or unstated limits, from charging extra to throttling down your connection speed to next to nothing after you go over the limit) but competition will bring down prices and increase limits. Interestingly some of the providers are offering unlimited 4G service, but the general consensus seems to be that after enough people get 4G devices and there is enough network traffic, those connections will have data caps as well. I encourage anyone who isn’t read up on net neutrality and UBB, and why the decisions made by our legislatures implementing or regulating them are important to read some of the great articles at arstechnica.com as well as to contact your government representatives and express to them how important it is that the government not allow ISPs and media interests to take away the things that have made the internet great.
       
      We used to pay by the hour for a dial up connection to services like AOL or CompuServe, and now you can get unlimited wired broadband for $20 in most places, the same changes are bound to happen in the mobile arena.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I pay nothing for the first 40hrs of Pandora, $1 for unlimited listening for the rest of the month after those have expired
      Dan, try adding Jango and the other competing services into the mix to effectively extend the free hours. You get slightly different mixes as well, which can be good or bad.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    As a former owner of a car with a touchy-feely interface, I can honestly agree wit LaHood (for once) that yes, they are huge distactions when trying to drive an ddo anything else. You need to split your vision when operating those buggers. you can’t feel the ‘buttons’ so you need to see them.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      +1 I’m driving a Cadillac STS rental right now with a big touchscreen for the radio and it is awful. Luckily it still has knobs for a couple functions. I have yet to figure out how to dim the overly bright screen too. No idea if it has any sort of voice control. At least the HVAC controls are buttons and dials.

      Enough already, I want a car, not a mobile Internet lounge!

    • 0 avatar

      Krhodes
      I bought my mom an STS for Christmas. The buttons are terrible and nowhere near as well thought out as GM’s newest radios or even Chrysler’s old Nav radios.
      Doing ANYTHING on it is a chore – I had a hard time just figuring out how to enter an address or use the bluetooth phone connection.

  • avatar
    Doc

    I will never buy a vehicle that has touch screen controls for commonly used functions if I can help it. It is just too hard to do while driving.
    I have not used Fords current Sync, but I have a 2008 Explorer with Sync and it is awful. I end up plugging my Ipod into the aux jack and using the Ipod’s controls all of the time.
    I do not think that it would be difficult for GM to improve on the Sync system. It leaves a lot to be desired.
     

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The 2008 incarnation was the first version of Sync, which when combined with the clock-radio LED display on that Explorer’s radio does leave a bit to be desired.  It has been improved upon many times over since then, both in accuracy of voice recognition, commands that it accepts, and overall capabilities.
       
      Still though, I wouldn’t call the original version bad.  In my experience it works pretty well when you know what commands it expects you to give, it just isn’t very tolerant of speaking the commands at the wrong time, or giving a variation of the command it expects.

    • 0 avatar

      Nullo,
      Someone needs to produce an instructional DVD on how to use Sync/MyFord Touch. I just read that Ford has upped the spiffs to salesmen to encourage them to do a better job teaching their customers how to use the system.
      I see that as an opportunity for someone to make the instructional videos and sell them to dealers for distribution to customers.
      Actually, since the system is computer based with a graphic display screen I’m surprised that they don’t have tutorials already programmed into the system.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Ronnie -
       
      There is a basic tutorial built into the system.
       
      Ford also has a website set up that shows how to videos for most of the functions and guides new users through the system if they need extra help: http://syncmyride.com/own/touch
       

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I’ve got the Chrysler voice command thing in my car and it works ok, it seems like when it’s really cold outside, it has some difficulty understanding me right after the car is started. A friend has a 2010 Ford Edge with SYNC and it works fine for him and his two kids, but it’s confused by his wife’s very odd voice, to the point she doesn’t use it much at all, or has one of the kids or him do it instead. I was with them a while back, being a “consultant” when they went out to buy a laptop, and her frustration was pretty funny. I don’t remember what car they used to have, I think it was a Lexus, and it had the most complex car stereo I have ever seen, and I’ve had a couple of real pain in the ass aftermarket head units over the last 20 years, but the Lexus had a ton of identical little buttons and I remember him saying it was the only thing he didn’t like about the car. He had a couple of very close calls in it due solely to that stereo sucking him in.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    Smart devices for stupid people.  “Eh…pardon me, the light just turned green.  How about watching the light, and the traffic patter, and looking out for pedestrians!”  Somewhere along the line driving became the last thing we want to do in a car.  Things went south once dashboards started moving away from the vent slider and pull-out choke knob.

  • avatar
    vbofw

    It is me, or does that interface resembles the first mock-up of a Sync prototope, circa-2005?  hehehe

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I’m certainly not against technology in the least, even though I’m not a young man, but it appears that a point has been reached of diminishing returns as to convenience=distractions while driving=lack of attention to the road and the responsibilites driving demands, add to that the hand-held computer that used to just be called a cell phone. and the seeming need to always be connected and be up-to-the-second slaves to such devices. There simply has to be a better way – and don’t tell me a return to the in-car AM-only radio with only two knobs is it, either! In other words, where is the middle ground that makes sense? And, more importantly, how to you get people to alter their behavior to achieve the middle ground? That’s the real problem, here – human behavior + personal responsibility. Or am I just missing something here?

    • 0 avatar
      SimonAlberta

      Zackman:
       
      No, I don’t think you are missing something. You have stated my exact thoughts on the issue. I think we have gone past the point where technology is being added for its’ actual merits but only on whether it can sell more vehicles or make more profit per unit. Even on the “driving” side things are getting out of hand.
       
      For example, is there a driver on the planet that actually NEEDS rain sensing wipers? “OMG, what are those dots on my windshield? How can I get rid of them? Turn a knob? Oh, that’s WAY too difficult.” LOL Actually, humor aside, I think they are actually dangerous. It is often the case that it is better NOT to run the wipers immediately it starts raining because you are likely to smear dirt/mud etc. across your vision at the wrong moment. All the more so at night.
       
      Don’t get me started on “intelligent” transmissions. I don’t WANT my car thinking for me – I want it to be 100% predictable so that I can control IT, not the other way around.

    • 0 avatar
      zenith

      The comment on “intelligent” windshield wipers reminded me of the old days when the wipers did NOT come on with the washers and one could super-saturate the bugs and crud before wiping. 
      I hate those first strokes of wiper over near-dry windshield and the messes they frequently make worse.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    When I was shopping for an aftermarket radio years ago i tried operating key features without looking at the face. I chose a Sony since it was easiest to operate while looking out for knuckleheads all around my car.
    Maybe a heads up display?

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    As for the dealers issue, well Ford SHOULD have more dealers than Chevrolet.  Chevy has to cede some market to sister brands GMC and Buick.  Ford does not (at least once Lincoln gets its ship righted)  When Ford has more dealerships than Chevrolet, GMC and Buick combined, now that will be news.

  • avatar

    Telling me iDrive’s not a brand? COMAND?

  • avatar
    PennSt8

    I haven’t had any seat time in any of GM’s offerings as of late, but I’m sure this tech is way overdue for each and every one of its brands.

    You know if consumers actually took the time to aquaint themselves with that book that came with their car when they bought it, also known as the owner’s manual, most people wouldn’t gripe about the complexity of new tech. Case and point……my other half. The other day we were heading out to dinner, and had no idea where we were going. I simply punched the voice command button on the steering wheel, spit out the address, confirmed and voila! I look over to a dumbfounded look, and then I get this response, ”Wow, I didn’t know you could do that”. This coming from someone who has owned the car from 9 months.

    Or you could just pawn it off on people being a little slow upstairs

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “You know if consumers actually took the time to aquaint themselves with that book that came with their car when they bought it, also known as the owner’s manual”.

      Yes, that’s the other problem! Great point that I missed

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I’m so nuts about RTFM that I end up reading manuals for other peoples’ cars whenever I drive them and have a few minutes. On my brother’s car I figured out that he could lock the truck so that it couldn’t be opened except with the key (automatic trunk release) because I got bored and read the manual.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    I’ve grown up with computer technology but found the My Sync system a royal pain to use and downright dangerous to make choices in a hurry.  This GM version doesn’t seem any more promising.  Come on, engineers, please remember we drivers sometimes wear __gloves__ when in a car, often have big fingers and don’t want to wade through 5 menus just to turn on a defroster !!

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      “…we drivers sometimes wear __gloves__ when in a car…”

      Couldn’t agree more. I like having huge buttons and the “Playskool-like” buttons in my Grand Prix (as referenced in the review from a couple years ago)  are wonderful when I have my gloves on and am trying to punch a button when it’s -20 outside. I also know exactly where everything is and don’t need to remove my eyes for even a second. 

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    some 3 years after Ford built the only real brand in what is now the crowded field of in-car connectivity options.

     
    Ford stole the idea from FIAT.  Fiat had what is now SYNC before Ford did.
     
    but I have a 2008 Explorer with Sync and it is awful.
     
    And the new ones are no better.  Ford is rushing this technology to the market without giving it adequate thought or testing.  SYNC is a joke…my cell phone has better voice recognition and the MyFordTouchy thingy has been a disaster.  You need a 45 minute session just to change the temperature.
     
    One analogy I read in a review is that the traditional three-knob HVAC controls are like the modern wheel.  Brilliantly easy to use and in no need of a redesign.  What Ford did with their touch thingy is take the modern wheel, make it a square, and tell you that it’s better because it’s different and ‘fresh’…..when in reality, it was a MAJOR step backwards.  Ford needs to spend a tad more time at the drawing board getting all of these bugs worked out and a bit less time writing arrogant, misleading, chest-thumping press releases.  They might actually do something good for a change.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      “Ford stole the idea from FIAT.  Fiat had what is now SYNC before Ford did.”
       
      If you understood the systems better, you’d understand your statement is not correct. The underlying operating system is common, but the look and feel, touch interfaces and the applications that define the SYNC user experience were developed by Ford or Ford’s contracted partners exclusively for Ford’s use. FIAT Blue&me and Ford SYNC may share the same “engine”, but they don’t compare overall. The Focus and the Transit Connect both use a 2.0L Duratec engine, but they are not “the same”.
       
      Ford SYNC comes in several versions with Ford SYNC with MyTouch at the top. Comparing the basic version in a 2008 Explorer with today’s top of the line SYNC with MyTouch is like comparing a two year old 2WD Canyon utility pickup with vinyl seats to a new Sierra 1500 Denali 4WD crew cab. Despite being similar in a broad way, they clearly aren’t the same, so comparing them as if they should be equal is a dumb maneuver.
       
      While GM and Chrysler were standing around picking their noses, Ford worked hard for years, made significant headway and achieved notable success in the marketplace with SYNC. Mentioning that isn’t arrogance, it’s stating the facts. It’s not Ford’s job to tone down their success story because it makes GM fanboys mad.
       
       

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I must really be in a world of my own, I have the AM radio on 700 WLW for traffic reports about that stupid I-75 I wrestle with every day, or rarely, pop in a CD. Most of the time, however, I drive in silence (relatively). Now, if I had internet radio for the station I do listen to all day at work and at home, my habits would change, if the price was right! I’m not buying a “smart” phone, either. My basic Nokia Fold does everything my wife wants it to do, namely, have a leash (or lifeline) on me! I’m not being old-fashioned or grumpy, I just don’t feel the need to be entertained 24/7. Solitude, whenever I can find it brings me peace and retains what sanity I have left. By The Way…I’d like to know how many of you are offended by “gas station music” piped through the pump’s tinny, distorted speakers while you fill your tank? I want to pull my hair out and kick something really hard!

    • 0 avatar
      SimonAlberta

      Zackman,
       
      Your comment on sanity is a very important one.
       
      I have come to believe that the propensity for people to be constantly “wired in” allows them to be better informed, possibly, but can lead to a tendency to be less thoughtful about their lives and the world around them.
       
      I believe to function optimally humans need plenty of contemplative time. For me, driving without radio etc. playing is one opportunity for a mental re-charge.


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