Auto China 2012: Ford Focus Now Understands Chinese

Microsoft has announced a partnership with Ford that lets the latter’s cars sold in the Chinese market understand the local language. Through Ford SYNC, Chinese drivers can now talk to their cars in Mandarin (and English) to get information, navigation information, and the like.

Ford's SYNC, featured on the Ford Focus, can now understand Mandarin, and can recognize voice commands in a wide range of regional accents. (Photo credit: Microsoft)

At Auto China 2012, Microsoft and Ford have announced their partnership in localizing SYNC, the American automaker’s popular interface system that lets drivers give commands to their car through speech. According to Microsoft, the Chinese version will be able to understand Mandarin, including a wide variation of accents.

Ford has recently made a US$ 760 million investment in setting up a manufacturing plant in China, and aims to produce 1.2 million cars a year. The company will also introduce 15 new models by 2015. Ford and Microsoft note that Chinese consumers are comfortable with using their mobile phones and smartphones, and SYNC will be a natural extension of one’s mobile device. Ford stresses that SYNC’s connected capabilities will help improve road safety, from reduced incidences of accidents due to handheld phone use while driving.

Aside from introducing its voice-controlled technology in China, Ford is likewise focusing on producing fuel-efficient cars for this market with 20 new engine types by 2015, helping improve emissions standards in the region.