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Ford, Jaguar, Hyundai Adding HD Radio

New York — Ford joined BMW and Mini Cooper are on the short list of automakers offering HD Radio, and Jaguar and Hyundai are not far behind.

Ford has begun offering HD Radio as a dealer-installed option for 19 of 23 Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury models in the 2008 model year. The add-ons are also compatible with the majority of the brands’ models in the 2005-2007 model years.

Dealers have been able to order the options for about a week, a Ford spokesman said. Consumers have been coming into car dealerships asking for HD Radio, he added.

To support Ford’s launch, the HD Digital Radio Alliance will launch a 13-week radio-marketing campaign in partnership with Ford, Lincoln and Mercury dealers in 100 markets over about 700 radio stations beginning today.

With the announcement, Ford becomes the first automaker to offer HD Radio as a dealer-installed option. BMW and sister brand Mini Cooper offer HD Radio as a factory-installed option on all of their models, the HD Radio Alliance said. Jaguar will offer it as a factory-installed option in the 2008-model-year XJ Sedan, as will Hyundai in its 2008-model-year premium sports sedan, the Alliance said.

Fords is offering two HD-Radio add-ons, both made by Peripheral Electronics at a suggested $279 and $299. The latter adds iPod connectivity. Installation takes about a half hour, adding up to about $50 to the price, according to the Alliance. The add-ons make a direct connection to the back of the factory radios without the use of FM modulation. Once the install is complete, the factory heads control the add-on tuner and display HD Radio station metadata. The model with iPod connectivity also displays iPod metadata and delivers head-unit control over song selection, including selection by genre, artist, and title, Ford said.

Ford’s dealer-installed options, like other automakers’ factory-installed options, are multicast-capable, the Alliance said. More than 1500 radio stations in the United States currently broadcast HD-Radio signals, and more than 600 of those stations air multicast programs.

BMW started offering HD Radio on select models in the 2006 model year, and Mini Cooper started earlier this year for its 2007-model-year vehicles. The Mini Cooper HD Radio option is a suggested $500. It’s also included as part of an audio package that includes a lifetime subscription to Sirius for $1,400.