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Ford to offer Sirius Satellite Radio in more of its vehicles

DETROIT — The Ford Motor Co. plans to announce today that it will offer Sirius Satellite Radio in more of its cars and trucks and that it will begin installing the satellite radio systems at its factories for the first time.

After more than two years of taking a backseat to XM Satellite Radio, the industry leader, Sirius appears to be gaining momentum. Earlier this month, Howard Stern signed a five-year deal to broadcast exclusively on Sirius starting in 2006. Sirius has also signed deals to broadcast games of the National Football League and the National Hockey League and to give Maxim magazine and the rapper Eminem their own channels.

But XM still maintains its status as the industry's giant, with 2.5 million subscribers compared with 600,000 for Sirius.

Currently, Sirius is available in nine Ford models; Ford will offer Sirius as a dealer-installed option in four more vehicles before the end of the year. Ford is the last of the Big Three automakers to offer satellite radio as a factory-installed option, and falls behind both Chrysler and General Motors in the number of vehicles in which it offers the service.

General Motors currently offers XM on 57 of its vehicle lines, while Chrysler offers Sirius in nearly all of its 25 vehicles. Ford said it hoped to have Sirius available in up to 20 vehicle lines as a factory-installed option by the 2007 model year.

While Sirius is sold in both Ford and Chrysler vehicles, XM has signed a 12-year contract with General Motors, the nation's largest automobile maker. General Motors, which includes Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick and Saturn, estimates that XM will be installed in 2 million of its vehicles by the end of the year. By comparison, Sirius estimated that its deal with Chrysler, which was announced in April, would generate an additional 500,000 subscribers.

Still, the news from Ford is another shot in the arm for Sirius, which had predicted that Stern's move alone will bring the company at least 1 million new subscribers.

"Naturally, we are thrilled," Joseph P. Clayton, the chief executive of Sirius, said in a statement.

Both Sirius and XM charge subscribers monthly fees for the commercial-free service. XM costs $9.99 a month, while Sirius charges $12.95.