LAS VEGAS – Ford SYNC in-car connectivity system will be available to even more customers and with even more functionality later this year.

In his keynote address at the 2008 International CES in Las Vegas, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates announced that Ford will expand SYNC to nearly all Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury cars and trucks by the end of 2008. Gates also confirmed a new “911 Assist” feature that will help drivers connect with emergency assistance in the event of an airbag deployment.

Introduced in the fall of 2007 and developed jointly by Ford and Microsoft, SYNC provides customers the convenience and flexibility to bring digital media players — Apple iPods, Microsoft Zunes, and other MP3 players — and Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones into their vehicle and operate the devices via voice commands or with the buttons on the steering wheel or radio.

SYNC is on track to reach 1 million sales in early 2009.

In addition to the new 911 Assist feature, SYNC is being updated this year to create, on-demand, easy-to-understand reports that owners can use to monitor the health of their vehicles.

Because SYNC is a software solution, owners of 2008 models equipped with SYNC already on the road will be able to have their systems updated with the new functions.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials