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911 Assist, Vehicle Health Report Expand Sync Capabilities And Convenience Features


* SYNC’s new 911 Assist will place a call directly to a local 911 operator in the event of an accident involving the activation of an air bag or an emergency fuel pump shut-off.
* 911 Assist, along with Vehicle Health Report, expands the capability of SYNC; both features are bundled together and now available as a software upgrade at dealerships for existing SYNC owners
* Both 911 Assist and Vehicle Health Report are offered without subscription fees

DEARBORN, Mich. – Out for a drive in her brand-new 2009 Ford Escape, Cheryl Vogel wasn’t expecting a minivan to suddenly smash into her passenger-side door in a collision so intense it left her sitting dazed and confused in the driver seat. She wasn’t expecting, either, the reassuring voice that emanated nearly immediately from the SYNC system in her vehicle: “A 911 call is being placed.”

Ford’s 911 Assist, part of the newest upgrade to Ford’s exclusive SYNC system, may be one of the handiest features drivers hope they’ll never need. In the event of an accident involving the activation of an air bag or, on certain vehicles, the emergency fuel pump shutoff, 911 Assist will place a call directly to a local 911 emergency operator. In such a situation that an occupant cannot respond, SYNC speaks to the 911 service and alerts an operator that a crash has occurred.

When a cell phone is properly paired, turned on and connected to SYNC ― which is designed to occur every time the driver enters the vehicle with his or her cell phone ― the system is ready to go.

“I thought this stuff was only in commercials,” said Vogel, of Maryland. “It really does work.” After SYNC connected her with a local 911 operator, Vogel said, she was able to give out the relevant information; police and fire trucks arrived on the scene just a few moments later. Vogel, luckily, walked away from the accident with minor injuries.

Unlike other crash notification services, 911 Assist does not require the customer to sign up and pay for a costly monthly service subscription; SYNC uses a customer’s existing mobile phone. Also, a key advantage of the system is speed, since calls are placed directly to the local 911 operators ― not a third party call center, as with other competitive systems.

“The speed and efficiency it takes to contact emergency services could mean the difference between life and death,” said Dave Hatton, 911 Assist product manager. “In Cheryl’s situation, 911 Assist performed flawlessly; she described the connection to the local 911 as seemingly ‘instantaneous,’ and help arrived, by her account, within five minutes.”

Nearly all 2008 and early model-year 2009 vehicles equipped with the original SYNC system are eligible for the upgrade, which also includes the innovative Vehicle Health Report feature.

Vehicle Health Report (VHR) gives customers the ability to monitor and manage their vehicle’s health in a single, easy-to-read report and receive important notifications. Using the SYNC Web site (, customers set up personal preferences for report content and notification methods to activate the service. Once established, a confidential report can be requested using simple voice commands.

The report includes diagnostic systems’ statuses, scheduled maintenance, needed repairs from the last dealership visit, and will even alert owners of any open recalls. Customers can print the report, email it to others, or ― with one additional click ― go to their preferred dealer’s Web site with report information ready and waiting. All that’s needed is for them to select an appointment time and confirm the request. If the owner is facing a diagnostic problem that’s deemed severe, the system will quickly send a text message to the owner’s cell phone, with specific actions on how to best handle the situation.

“The system is designed, overall, for peace of mind,” said Tom Hodges, SYNC and digital marketing manager. “Best of all, the information is all together, all in one place to make it easy for the customer.”

Ford launched both new features in December 2008, including them in all factory-installed SYNC-equipped vehicles. Most SYNC owners who don’t have 911 Assist or Vehicle Health Reports can get the features now by making an appointment with their preferred dealer for an upgrade. The upgrade is a software installation performed by dealers, and eligible customers are responsible for dealer installation charges, which may vary.

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 205,000 employees and about 90 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit


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