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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ford to launch MyKey safety feature in Europe

Ford Motor Co. will launch its MyKey feature in Europe next year, alongside the Ford Sync voice-control system.

MyKey allows an "administrator," most likely a parent, to give younger drivers a designated key with a unique computer chip that among other things limits a car's top speed to 140kph (around 87.5 mph) in Europe.

In North America, MyKey debuted as a standard feature on the 2010 Ford Focus and is now a no-cost feature on nearly all Ford and Lincoln models. In Europe, the Ford Fiesta will be the first model to get MyKey next year, followed by the all-new Ford Focus, before spreading to the rest of the lineup.

In North America, MyKey imposes a standard top speed of 80 mph, but parents can opt for a top speed of 65, 70, 75 or 80 mph.

Ford decided not to give the option of choosing different top speeds for European markets, said Pim van der Jagt, executive director, Ford Advanced Research and Engineering Center in Aachen, Germany.

"Speed limits are different in different markets, and in Germany there are highways with no limits, so we decided not to (provide lower limits), because for instance in an emergency you might need to accelerate," he said Thursday following a press conference at the 2011 IFA consumer electronics show here.

Additional safety features

In Europe, MyKey can be programmed to sound a warning as the car passes speeds of 70, 90 or 100kph, similar to the North American version. Most MyKey features are almost identical in Europe and in North America.

For instance, MyKey makes it impossible to turn off certain safety systems, such as blind-spot detection, electronic stability control, lane departure warning and traction control. MyKey also limits the audio volume to 44 percent of total volume, and mutes the audio until front seat belts are fastened.

MyKey also turns on the "low fuel" warning at a remaining range of 120 km instead of 80km, van der Jagt said. One difference is that Ford announced in North America in December 2010 that it would allow parents to lock out satellite radio programming with explicit language. That won't be available in Europe at launch.

"Satellite radio really isn't all that popular in Europe, so we won't have that," van der Jagt added.

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