New Ford Focus models in Europe are to offer wifi for the first time, the US automaker said May 2.

The 2012 Ford Focus will be the first model to use Ford SYNC, the telematics and infotainment system which has been available on US models for some time.

WiFi, included as part of the SYNC system, will be available on all models in the form of a password-protected hotspot which occupants use to get online using up to five tablet devices or laptop computers within the vehicle.

The system will utilize customers' existing USB modems or smartphones (Ford promised that it will also work with devices not yet on the market), meaning no additional contracts will need to be signed, although it's likely that the additional demand of data on long journeys could stretch some users' data plans.

Ford says that its system is a response to the shifting demands of its customers on the move.

"We’re finding that Ford customers are tech savvy and – while travelling as passengers in cars – they want to be able to use their WiFi enabled devices," said the company's Christof Kellerwessel.

"A reliable in-car Internet connection is therefore extremely important to them, and that’s exactly what SYNC will offer when it makes its European debut on the Ford Focus in 2012."

The 2012 Ford Focus hits Europe next year and is expected to be the first of several models equipped with the SYNC WiFi hotspot.

Ford is a global leader in in-car connectivity - its SYNC system was among the first to offer a suite of in-car apps and with recent appearances at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and CeBIT in Hannover, it is at pains to point out that it "is an automaker that is quickly becoming a personal technology company as well."

However, other automakers are now starting to catch up, with General Motors, Toyota and Hyundai all revealing significantly overhauled in-car connectivity systems this year.

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