Since its launch in 2015, the Mustang has truly become a global success story. It is well on its way to becoming the world’s most popular sports car thanks to sales success in places like China, where it is the most popular sports car in the land. So far 10,506 Mustangs have been sold and 3,600 more shipped there this year. With that kind of growth, it was about time for the pony car to learn the local language.

Responding to customer demand engineers at Ford’s Research and Engineering Center in Nanjing taught the SYNC 3 system in the latest Mustang to understand traditional Chinese handwriting to accompany its recognition of Mandarin Chinese voice commands.

The Mustang is the most popular sports car sold in China. Now it can recognize and respond to traditional Chinese handwriting.

The Mustang is the most popular sports car sold in China. Now it can recognize and respond to traditional Chinese handwriting.

The Chinese version of SYNC 3 is far more than just a translation of a global technology. —Fisher Xu, Ford

Prior to this development, users were required to input words on the touchscreen using phonetic spellings of Chinese words known as pinyin. This was a cumbersome process, especially for older drivers who aren’t up to speed on pinyin.

“The Chinese version of SYNC 3 is far more than just a translation of a global technology,” Fisher Xu, SYNC Supervisor for Ford Asia Pacific, said. “It’s really been localized to respond to a Chinese driver’s needs with a local point of view, from the voice commands that understand our accents and our habits, to the way we structure our statements.”

Since its 2015 launch in China, the Mustang has become the best-selling sports car there. In the last two years, 10,506 Mustangs were sold in China and 3,600 have already been shipped there this year. Better yet, all Ford Performance vehicles are selling well in China, with Mustang sales up 45 percent this year, while the Focus RS and Focus ST sales are up by 12 percent.

The multimodal handwriting feature in Ford SYNC reads each piece of the character by tracing it and converting it into type. Using a library of 2,500 common characters and predictive algorithms SYNC 3 hastens the recognition process.

“For instance, when you talk to a friend in China and they ask where you are, they’re really looking for a building name or a point of interest, not a street number,” Fisher added.“That’s probably different to other parts of the world, and SYNC 3 is smart enough to know this local preference, seamlessly.”

Along with its presence in the Mustang, this functionality is also available on several other Fords sold in China, including the Edge, Focus, Kuga, Explorer and Taurus.