Ford Motor Co. said it’s researching a voice-to-text system for use by motorists, after endorsing a proposed U.S. ban on texting while driving.
“A voice-recognition approach is better than bringing in a piece of paper and unfolding a map or looking down at a mobile device,” Jim Buczkowski, Ford’s director of electronics, said after a press conference today in Dearborn, Michigan. “We’re looking at various combinations of accomplishing that task because it’s being asked for by consumers.”
Ford, which offers the Sync voice-controlled information and entertainment system, on Sept. 10 became the first automaker to support the texting legislation. The proposal, introduced by New York Senator Charles Schumer, would withhold 25 percent of U.S. highway aid from states that don’t ban writing or reading text messages on hand-held devices while driving.
In endorsing the texting ban, Ford’s vice president of government relations Peter Lawson said the automaker wouldn’t support a law that would restrict hands-free systems such as Sync, developed with Microsoft Corp. and introduced in 2007. General Motors Co. offers hands-free communications in its vehicles through its OnStar system.
Ford and the Consumer Electronics Association also announced today that Alan Mulally, the automaker’s chief executive officer, will deliver opening remarks at the International Consumer Electronics Show on Jan. 7 in Las Vegas.
The second-largest U.S. automaker offers a message system on “a handful” of phones that reads texts to drivers who push a button on the dash, Buczkowski said. Ford is working on a system to convert a driver’s spoken words to text and send them to a mobile device. He wouldn’t say when that might go on sale.
“We have to make it easy to use and a good value,” Buczkowski said.
Ford cars and trucks with Sync sell twice as fast as vehicles without it, said Alan Hall, a company spokesman. The system, a $395 option on some models, is on 70 percent of the vehicles Ford is selling this year, he said.
Ford fell 11 cents to $6.83 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have almost tripled this year.