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Ford Launching System to Rival GM’s OnStar

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

Ford has announced its 911 Assist system, which is designed to compete with General Motors
OnStar. Available soon as a dealer-installed software upgrade to Ford, Lincoln and Mercury
vehicles equipped with Ford’s Sync multimedia system, 911 Assist places direct calls to
emergency services in the event of a crash. The 911 Assist (which is free) works via a
driver’s cell phone, while OnStar relies on an onboard device and requires a paid
subscription. The 911 Assist is activated when airbags are deployed, or if the airbags
don’t deploy, a rear-mounted inertia monitor can activate the system. Assist 911 notifies
emergency operators of a crash and the vehicle can be located by triangulating the location
of the cell phone or through a GPS system, which will be made standard in all Ford vehicles
beginning in the 2009 model year. Along with 911 Assist is Ford’s Sync-based Vehicle Health
Report (VHR) system. Data is supplied by the vehicle’s control modules, and is sent to Ford
through the user’s cell phone. The free service includes routine checks of more than 24
vehicle systems. A warning light will prompt a message of what caused the alert,
eliminating a trip to the dealership for problems such as a loose gas cap. VHR and 911
Assist will be available on a dozen Sync-equipped Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models by
December and eight more will be offered in 2009.

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