Monday, 8 July 2013

Car companies dial telematics for mass models.

CHENNAI: An entertainment and communication console that seamlessly connects the phone with the car?

The mobile phone-enabled 'integrated' system is a given in many high-end luxury cars but after the Ford EcoSport, the trend is now finding converts in mass market cars as well.

As the mobile becomes a one-stop entertainment-cum-communication device, car companies are looking at ways to extend that connectivity to the vehicle too.

Not a cheap technology, this has so far been the premise of high-end cars including the just-launched Mercedes Benz A Class.

But after the Ford EcoSport's SYNC system , more volume car makers are starting to wonder if the technology can come to less pricey brands in India.

Said Kenichiro Yomura, president & CEO, Nissan Motor India, "We are studying that kind of possibility and will definitely try to introduce those sort of features in India. In Japan we have the 'CarWings' (vehicle telematics ) system which allows you to communicate between the car and the service centre for example. We provide this option in many models in Japan because scale makes the technology affordable and we are studying to see if it will work for India as well." 

Ford and Nissan aren't the only volume car brands that are looking at Bluetooth and telematics as the ultimate bells and whistles for car buyers. General Motors India packs in Bluetooth, USB port and an MP3 (though no telematics) player as part of its entertainment package for the Sail hatchback and notchback and the Cruze and Captiva.

Vehicle telematics is already a favoured option in a number of high-end cars. The Honda CRV and Accord for instance come with Bluetooth interface.

Ditto for the Mercedes Benz A Class on which the iPhone can be synced seamlessly offering music playback on the head unit, audio streaming and text messages are displayed in the CD display if the Bluetooth message access profile (MAP) is supported by the mobile phone.

Said Mercedes Benz MD & CEO Eberhard Kern, "The Bluetooth and phone compatibility option is standard in the A Class and it allows you to play music from your iPhone and use the contact list to make calls etc. It's a seamless integration of entertainment and communication between the phone and the car."

Car manufacturers have been tying up with software makers to integrate the mobile with the car, making the car an extension of the entertainment-cum-communication device.

Ford, for instance , is working with Microsoft globally which has powered its SYNC integrated communication and entertainment technology for the EcoSport.

And Apple reportedly announced at its developers' meet last month that it plans to link its iOS7 mobile operating system with the tech-entertainment systems of passenger cars. and is in fact talking to a number of car companies about possible alliances. 

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