Issue: Mar 2008


Fiat Group Automobiles and Microsoft Grow Partnership With the Lancia Delta and Fiat EcoDrive in Gen



by Lenny Case

Fiat Group Automobiles and Microsoft Grow Partnership With the Lancia Delta and Fiat EcoDrive in Geneva

- Continental also unveils Microsoft-based infotainment prototype at
CeBIT expo.

News at a glance

- Lancia Automobiles will unveil the new Lancia Delta equipped with
Blue&Me and Blue&Me Nav.

- Fiat Group Automobiles will announce details on EcoDrive, available
later this year and based on the Blue&Me platform.

- Fiat is seeing massive uptake in Blue&Me, reaching an attach ratio of
70 percent in the new Fiat 500.

- Following its launch last year, Ford has estimated Sync will be a
massive hit in the US car market with a projected 1 million cars sold
with the system by early 2009.

- Continental AG will show its latest multimedia platform prototype
featuring extended navigation, infotainment and multi-device support.

Following last year's successful unveiling of Blue&Me Nav, Fiat Group Automobiles and Microsoft Corp are set to announce strong attach rates and further developments for the system at this year's CeBIT expo and the Geneva Motor Show.

Lancia Automobiles will globally launch the new Lancia Delta, factory-fitted with Blue&Me or, as an option, Blue&Me Nav. Blue&Me Nav provides a simple and intuitive voice-controlled navigation system via a Bluetooth interface; as standard it also incorporates a USB port, MP3 player and SMS text interpreter. Blue&Me Nav's key functions such as phone, music player and navigation are built into the instrument panel, allowing drivers to listen to their favourite music, make phone calls and use the navigation system via the hands-free interface. The speech recognition technology ensures drivers have hands-free access to all Blue&Me's features in a completely safe manner when in motion.

Blue&Me has now proved to be one of Fiat's most successful service offerings with 70 percent uptake in all of the pre-ordered Fiat 500s in Europe.

Fiat will also show a detailed new demonstration of its EcoDrive system at the show. Originally shown as a prototype at the Frankfurt Motor Show, EcoDrive collects all data relating to vehicle efficiency. Using Blue&Me's USB gate, trip data can be put onto a standard USB key and then viewed on a PC using a dedicated application. The EcoDrive system presents the driver with details of the environmental performance of the car, including the CO2 emission level for each journey. The software can also be used to analyse an individual's driving style, providing tips and recommendations on how to achieve CO2 reductions and save money on fuel.

"Microsoft and its partners share a vision for transforming the driving experience by connecting motorists seamlessly and safely to the people and information they care about while they are on the road," said Martin Thall, general manager of Microsoft Auto. "By building on the Microsoft Auto platform, Fiat's ability to innovate and create market-defining in-car technology allows the company to build even further on its reputation for driver-centric innovation and design."

Sync to Drive Ford

Microsoft Auto has seen further momentum in the US with Ford Sync following its launch last year. Ford has estimated Sync will be a massive hit in the US car market with a projected 1 million cars sold equipped with it by early 2009. With the launch of the Ford Focus in the US, Sync has become the most requested feature in all Focus models, particularly among the
18- to 35-year-old audience.

At the CeBIT expo in Hannover, the international automotive supplier Continental AG will showcase a prototype of its next-generation Multimedia Platform (MMP), based on the Microsoft Auto platform. It includes navigation, high-end multimedia applications and interfaces that connect multiple portable electronic entertainment devices.

The Microsoft Auto platform allows Continental to focus on its key competences, such as system design, vehicle integration, driver assistance systems and safety systems. This also means its MMP is easily upgradeable, enabling Continental customers to keep up with the latest technologies and standards.

Carmakers benefit from this concept by getting a tailor-made system in a much shorter lead time, which allows more time to integrate the latest trends in consumer electronics into the automotive environment. Ultimately, this enables motorists and their passengers to enjoy the latest infotainment technology as soon as it is available.

"Thanks to the excellent cooperation with Microsoft's Automotive Business Unit we are making rapid progress with our new platform. The development of this solution proves that our collaboration allows every party to concentrate on its key competencies, which maximises the benefit for our customers," said Helmut Matschi, president of Continental's Interior Division.

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