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Ford Speeds iPod Connectivity to More Vehicles as Audio-Player Demand Doubles in Next 5 Years

Drivers can now easily plug their iPod into the car thanks to new audio features being introduced in new 2007-model Ford (NYSE:F) and Lincoln Mercury vehicles.

Ford is responding to the skyrocketing customer demand to bring electronic devices into cars and trucks by offering the new features. The company predicts that iPod and other MP3 player sales will reach 132 million units in 2009 — more than double the 57.7 million sold in 2005.

“We at Ford have pledged to listen more closely to our customers, and that includes knowing how they want to use their personal audio devices while driving,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president of the Americas. “We see the booming trend in the audio marketplace, and we are responding quickly in our vehicles.”

For the 2007-model year, built-in auxiliary audio-input jacks will be offered on the Ford Edge, Explorer, Expedition, Mustang, Fusion, Sport Trac, Ranger, F-150, Mercury Milan, Mountaineer, Lincoln MKX, Lincoln MKZ, Navigator and Lincoln Mark LT. The jacks allow customers to bring any iPod or other MP3 player with a standard 3.5 millimeter audio output into their vehicle and play it through the audio system.

In addition, early next year, Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers throughout the U.S. will begin offering Ford’s TripTunes Advanced audio system — an iPod integration feature that provides drivers with top sound quality and recharging at the same time. TripTunes Advanced allows the driver to store the iPod in the vehicle’s glove box and select music using the steering wheel or radio controls — including shuffling songs and skipping between tracks and playlists.

“The iPod has been a huge hit, and we at Ford wanted to develop a way for people to bring the device into their Ford, Lincoln or Mercury vehicle without having to fuss with the device while driving,” said Doug VanDagens, director of Ford’s product and business development for electronics. “What we’ve accomplished with the integration of the iPod into our vehicles is just one piece of a much broader effort at Ford Motor Company to respond to customer trends more quickly.”

Satellite Navigation, SIRIUS Radio Also Growing Fast

Responding to another consumer trend, Ford is dramatically increasing the number of its vehicles with DVD-based navigation systems and SIRIUS satellite radio.

“In 2005, less than half of our vehicles were available with a navigation system, satellite radio or auxiliary audio inputs. For 2007, we’re doubling the models available with a navigation system and quadrupling the number with SIRIUS satellite radio,” says Fields.

Ford’s intuitive, DVD-based navigation system is new for 2007 on the Ford Fusion, F-150, Mustang, Mercury Milan and Lincoln Mark LT. Also for 2007, Ford is broadening its relationship with SIRIUS satellite radio, adding the feature on the Ford Edge, Ford Shelby GT500, Five Hundred, Fusion, Mustang, Expedition, Ranger, Sport Trac, Mercury Montego, Milan and Lincoln MKX and Navigator.

By the 2008-model year, Ford expects to offer available SIRIUS satellite radio in 90 percent of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles.

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