Ford is bringing its smart in-car technology Sync to the UK next year with its all-electric Focus. The voice-control system is built in collaboration with Microsoft, and will include MyFord Touch - the latest generation of the system - and includes a comprehensive 8-inch touchscreen through which much of the car's functionally can be controlled.
Sync has been available in the US for a while now, and seems to have blessed cars with some of the intelligence found in the average smartphone. The system allows you to control specially designed apps on your iPhone, Android or BlackBerry device and through these you can add more features to the car, such as access to streaming internet radio.
As you might expect, there's access to traffic and navigation information and local details. You can also monitor your car's systems and generate reports on how the car is being driven, and the state of the engine, along with information about tyre pressure and the like.
The system can understand thousands of voice commands in nine European languages and enables you to use your voice, instead of your hands, to control certain aspects of the car, in an effort to help prevent accidents.
Although accident prevention is key, the system should also help keep you safe if you do crash. It does this by detecting an impact, and then automatically placing a call to emergency services. These allow people who might be trapped to access emergency help quickly.
The system uses an internet connection to access certain features, and a handy byproduct of this is that you can use the car as an internet hotspot too.
As well as Sync the car features a new "smartgauge" which aims to promote good driving. Good, efficient driving is rewarded by butterflies, which flap their pretty little wings on to the dashboard if you're doing a good job. If, as Ford describes it, you're "in a rush", then the butterflies will go somewhere else.
While that might sound a little lame, it's combined with coaching tips to help you drive more efficiently. In an electric car, this is quite important as range anxiety is a big deal. What Ford is trying to do is boost the confidence drivers have that their car will get them to their destination, and back again.
The Focus Electric will go on sale in 2013 and is Ford's first all-electric car.