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12 Volt : Everything Including the SYNC!

Kenwood and Automotive Data Solutions team up to bring aftermarket excellence and versatility to ford vehicles equipped with the ubiquitous infotainment unit.

January 2012 By Brett Solomon

I thought we were more like electricians, not plumbers. Well, SYNCs have been clogging up all of the clout in the 12-volt world. Now its time for the aftermarket to come along and bring additional features and a better experience than the stock Ford unit. Kenwood and ADS through the iDataLink Maestro product line have created a breakthrough so now navigation can be offered on those SE model Ford Focuses (Foci?) or secretary-enabled V6 Mustangs.

All 2012 Kenwood navigation models are compatible with the iDataLink Maestro. The installer just has to T-Harness in the special black box and update firmware to run it with the type of Ford vehicle. Welcome to the future. It’s time to unclog the SYNC!   
We spoke with Mark Rutledge, technical director, and Dan Facciolo, director of marketing, for Automotive Data Systems about the new SYNC unclogger. Rutledge noted, “Kenwood and ADS have worked together to implement a two-way communication link between the Maestro module and the Kenwood radio. Using this link, we are able to send information to the radio to be displayed and receive commands from the radio when a button is pressed. The Maestro module connects to the CAN network in the vehicle and controls the Microsoft SYNC system, as well as the OEM Sirius satellite radio tuner (if present). The Kenwood radio has a special ‘OEM Features’ GUI screen where these sources can be selected.”
Kenwood and ADS have a partnership where everyone benefits, including the customer. Rutledge noted, “We targeted Kenwood as a potential partner and managed to arrange a meeting and demonstration of a ‘proof of concept’ at the 2011 CES. We started the project shortly afterwards. Kenwood is great to work with and very supportive. We are thrilled they share our vision about new ways to integrate aftermarket radios into the existing vehicle systems. The Ford Sync application was something that was sorely needed and helps us to reach an entirely new group of customers.”
Keith Lehmann, SVP of Kenwood, noted, “ADS is very informed about the challenges and a great partner. We were really impressed with what they were doing with vehicle security- their knowledge of complex databus systems is top notch.  Moreover, there are millions of Ford vehicles on the road with more basic options packages but have SYNC. With the addition of Kenwood’s feature set, we can offer the customer a tremendous experience.”

Car Toys Expediting NetworkCoincidentally, in a recent issue we took a look at some of the most successful expeditors across the nation. Besides the millions of SYNC-equipped Ford vehicles on the streets already, there is also a tremendous opportunity for those basic vehicles equipped with SYNC on the showroom floor. Although SYNC can be wiped off the options list as ‘Factory Delete,’ in 2012 it will be the exception rather than rule on the Ford dealer floorplan. Just like GM’s OnStar, Ford’s initiative is to equip all of its vehicles with SYNC. As the successful expeditor knows, sometimes color choice can please the customer rather than the infotainment package. The customer wants the Candy Red Metallic on the showroom floor with navigation, but it is only a SE model. The nav is in the Tuxedo Black Titanium package. The customer will buy the Candy Red today if it only had nav. The mighty expeditor to the rescue!Kirk Stewart is the director of Commercial Business of Car Toys based in Seattle, Wash. Although most are familiar with the nearly 50 brick-and-mortar locations, Car Toys also has a thriving expeditor network. Stewart is very excited about the potential of the new Kenwood/iDataLink product for the Ford dealerships Car Toys services. “For Car Toys, Ford dealerships are some of our best clients. We have had limited solutions for vehicles with the SYNC system that still looks good in the vehicle and retains full functionality. We are excited about this new solution and will be using our team of outside salespeople to conduct sales trainings for the dealership salespeople so they are comfortable and confident with the system.”We also asked Stewart about the excitement behind this potentially revolutionary product. Stewart noted, “We have been asking for many years for our major mobile electronics partners to support and embrace the SYNC system and we are glad that Kenwood and ADS were able to accomplish this. This will allow us to drive more aftermarket business in vehicles with the SYNC system.”Along with Car Toys, we also can’t wait for feedback once the first units hit the street with hopefully happy customers!

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