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Ford Uses Wi-Fi to Customize Cars

Published on August 26, 2010
by Matthew Dolan

The auto industry is getting fired up about wireless technology in cars and trucks but it’s not just for connecting passengers’ laptops or streaming Internet radio stations. [Note: Check out related video from Ford CEO Alan Mulally’s appearance at D8 earlier this year.]

Here at an assembly plant outside Toronto, Ford Motor Co. (F) is using Wi-Fi transmitters to load customized phone and entertainment features into its Edge and Lincoln MKX crossovers as the vehicles chug down the production line.

The Dearborn, Mich., company is beaming software wirelessly to the vehicles to set up their information and entertainment systems for various markets: One Edge bound for the U.S. gets Ford’s 911 emergency assistance package while one to stay in Canada gets the option to speak in French and offers traffic information about Canadian roads.

Ford’s coming Explorer sport-utility vehicle and Focus compact car will have similar technology when they launch later this year.

But transmitting software for radio and phone systems may be just the start of the customization possibilities at car factories and dealerships.

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