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Coming soon: Cars with wireless Internet

Tue, 01 Jan 2008 ANI

Melbourne, July 7 (ANI): Carmakers in the US and across Europe are vying to be the first to launch a vehicle with the facility of wireless Internet onboard.


US carmaker Chrysler has announced that it may launch such cars in September this year.


The company says that the Internet will be meant to be used only by those sitting in the passenger's seat.


"We're very interested in looking at it. With all types of new technology, we always push for them to come here," the Australian quoted Chrysler Australia spokesman Jerry Stamoulis as saying.


He, however, added that he just did not have any idea whether the UConnect Web system would be applicable in Australia.


"It's the sort of thing which not everyone wants but it's a must-have for some people," Stamoulis said.


In Europe, BMW has also further developed its existing ConnectedDrive system, which can now allow full access to the Internet through a dashboard screen and a mouse-like controller on the central console.


The system may be operated by the driver or front passenger - but only when the car is stopped.


However, due to "technical complexities and likely low demand", the service will not be available in Australia.


BMW Australia spokesman Alexander Corne says that the existing BMW Online system, which allows emailing and limited internet access, is to end after a three-year trial in Australia.


"The take-up rate was close to zero, and it's being phased out," he said.


Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesman David McCarthy also is also hopeful of having Internet connection in their cars soon, though he concedes that "there's no timetable as yet".


According to him, the next step would be a kit to fully integrate the Apple iPhone into Mercedes cars.


The arrival of in-car internet, however, has become a cause of concern for US law makers, who are now scrambling to see whether safety legislation needs to be revised to include computers as well as mobile phones.


"The number of gadgets in cars already is considerable, and this will be another one. You're in a car to drive the car. Even someone else using it while you're driving could be a distraction," said Jim Kershaw, a spokesman for the RACQ.


"We know that driver inattention contributes to a quarter of fatal crashes, and a third of all crashes," he added. (ANI)


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