The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

July 5, 2013

Three different paths to infotainment taken by Detroit Three

(PHOTO) (HAS TRIM)

General Motors is the pioneer, Ford the innovator and Chrysler the sleeper dark horse in the battle for the best infotainment system among domestic automakers.

Detroit’s automakers have followed three distinct paths to allow drivers to play their music, get directions, make calls and stay constantly connected while behind the wheel. All have bugs. All have advantages and disadvantages. Each car maker is determined to provide the best system to differentiate themselves and sell more vehicles.

“If you ignore connectivity, you’ll go out of business,” said Mike Hichme, GM senior manager for advanced infotainment and design. A large screen and Bluetooth are essentials. “(About) 70 percent of customers want a form of connectivity. No one can afford to take a pass.”

Less than 10 percent of vehicles globally have GPS chips and cellular technology embedded right into their cars to transform them into a phone on wheels. But that penetration should double by 2015 and continue to grow to 50 percent, said Francesca Forestieri, a connected vehicle expert with the GSM Association, an international trade organization of mobile operators.

“By 2025 it’s clear all cars will be connected in multiple manners,” she said. The trend now is to offer different options, she said, from embedded computer chips to the ability to tap into smartphones seamlessly.

Detroit’s automakers have tackled the problem from different angles, resulting in unique solutions.

GM’s OnStar, developed in 1996, is the granddaddy of the field, known as telematics. But Ford’s original Sync system was deemed so revolutionary that in 2007 it eclipsed GM as the technology leader, causing great angst in the OnStar offices.

But Ford, buoyed by Sync’s success, pushed too far too fast in designing its successor, MyFord Touch, which replaced buttons and knobs with a touch screen and multiple menus for simple functions. The combination of bugs with the system and consumer complaints about its complexity put a black mark on Ford’s overall quality record. Ford has addressed many of the bugs and continues to update the software to make the system easier to use.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Injured snowy owl ready to be released ST. PAUL (AP) — A rare snowy owl that gained national attention when it was apparently hit by a bus in the nation's capital is scheduled to be released into the wild after a rehab stint in Minnesota. The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota

    April 18, 2014

  • Court case to test 'Buy the Farm' law NEW PRAGUE (AP) — A case set for trial next week is expected to test Minnesota's "Buy the Farm" law, which is meant to require utilities building high-voltage power lines to buy out farms in the way if affected landowners demand it. The case pits th

    April 18, 2014

  • Judge strikes down part of state energy law MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A federal judge ruled Friday that part of a Minnesota law designed to promote the use of renewable energy is unconstitutional because it attempts to control business that takes place outside state borders — and she barred Minnesota

    April 18, 2014

  • White House updating online privacy policy A new Obama administration privacy policy released Friday explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to WhiteHouse.gov, mobile apps and social media sites, and it clarifies that online comments, whether tirades or tribut

    April 18, 2014

  • Horse virus cases showing up in Upper Midwest BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — State officials in the Upper Midwest are cautioning horse owners about a virus that spreads easily among the animals and can lead to breathing problems, abortions and nervous system disorders. Three cases of equine herpesvirus

    April 18, 2014

  • Bear attacks spark debate: Kill them, or leave them alone? ORLANDO, Fla.—Dallas Smith thinks he has the answer to Central Florida’s black-bear threat, and he’s ready to lock and load it. “I think the fear of God needs to be put back into them,” said Smith, 47, who wants state authorities to lift restriction

    April 18, 2014

  • Tourism push plays up 'Only in Minnesota' ST. PAUL — (AP) — Say goodbye to "More to Explore." Minnesota tourism promoters ushered in a new slogan Thursday that focuses on "Only in Minnesota" experiences as part of their largest-ever advertising campaign. The revamped message kicks off a maj

    April 17, 2014

  • mfp ap pipeline photo Minnesota Pipe Line seeks to expand capacity MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Pipe Line Co. announced plans Thursday to nearly double the capacity of a crude oil pipeline that carries oil from Canada and North Dakota to the two refineries in the Twin Cities that produce most of Minnesota's and much

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Holder asserts his commitment to fighting heroin WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has been crusading for more lenient treatment for nonviolent drug offenders, making it a top priority before he is expected to leave office this year. Recently, however, he has been forced to confront

    April 17, 2014

  • Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds ATLANTA — Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her speech, but she

    April 17, 2014