Ford is claiming to be the first car manufacturer in the UK to offer in-car digital radio, selling the Blaupunkt Woodstock DAB 52 as a dealer-fitted accessory from January 1, 2003.

Every Ford main dealer will stock the unit by the end of the year, and will fit it to any make of car.

The Woodstock is said to be the world’s first Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) receiver housed in a standard car radio enclosure. Features include an integral MP3 player for both CD and multimedia cards (MMC). MMC is the smallest storage medium in the world – a single CD-ROM can play back up to 12 hours of music, or around 200 tracks.

Other features include track and artist identification, 20 DAB station presets and 30 presets for FM, long wave and medium wave stations.  When driving outside a DAB area the unit automatically switches to FM, then back again when DAB reception is available.

Digital radio provides the highest standards of sound quality, reception and programming, with CD quality sound and a vast range of stations.  More than 80% of the UK population already live within the reception range for digital radio, and new transmitters should bring coverage to 85% by the end of the year. Analogue radio will eventually be switched off, making DAB the norm.

“The sound quality and programming capabilities of in-car digital radio are simply stunning.  Dealers will have demonstration units so that motorists can try before they buy,” said a Ford spokesman.