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Butler was for many years a senior Cadillac executive (Photo: GM)

Ford Motor has appointed Don Butler to develop its connected-car strategy, consolidating an area of growing automotive importance under one executive.

Butler resigned as vice president global strategy at General Motors' Cadillac division in the summer of 2013. Earlier in his career he served as vice president for telematics startup Inrix.

"Not only does Don understand the connected car landscape, but probably just as important, he understands customer expectation," said Raj Nair, Ford's head of global product development. Butler, whose title will be executive director, connected  vehicle and services, will report to Nair, with dotted lines to sales and marketing chief Jim Farley and CIO Nick Smither.

Farley said in a press release that Ford's strategy envisions connecting the vehicle to a larger ecosystem that includes the internet of things."The opportunity is much bigger than just in-car technology," Farley said.

In putting all connectivity and telematics issues under one executive, Ford follows rival General Motors, which in 2012 appointed former Dell executive Mary Chan as head of a new "connected consumer" division.

Both Ford and GM will join other automakers at this week's CES in Las Vegas, where they are expected to showcase their latest automotive connectivity offerings.

Ford said it is making its in-car Sync AppLink system available to another 3.4 million vehicles. The technology, which lets drivers operate smartphone-based apps in the car through voice control, is already installed in more than 1 million vehicles today. AppLink, which was launched in 2010, allows users to control more than 60 apps on iOS and Android platforms.