Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

The Telematics War Begins at GM and Chrysler

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

The Telematics War Begins at GM and Chrysler

Article excerpt

DETROIT -- The battle lines have been drawn and the forces are geared up for what is expected to be one of the best battles the auto industry has seen in recent years. I'm not talking about another takeover or merger, I'm talking about telematics.

What's that?

It's the systems that bring the Internet, e-mail and other functions to your vehicle. Think of GM's OnStar and you're on the right track.

In recent weeks the folks at DaimlerChrysler and GM have been exchanging pot shots at one another on their telematics systems and just who has what consumers want.

DaimlerChrysler fired the first shot a few weeks ago when it brought members of the media to its top-secret Liberty project center in suburban Detroit to see its new I.T. Cruiser, which is basically a P.T. Cruiser stuffed with techno gadgets meant to signal the future of telematics.

The DaimlerChrysler telematics team showed us a bunch of gee- whiz technologies that could beam songs from your home CD player to your car or truck.

Additionally, they showed us how you could actually turn the lights on and off in your home directly from your car.

None of this technology, by the way, is slated to be available in the near term and DaimlerChrysler refused to provide details as to when features like e-mail access or emergency response services -- both of which are now found on GM's OnStar -- would be available in their Chrysler Group vehicles.

Things started get a little testy when members of the media asked pointed questions to the DaimlerChrysler telematics experts about why they haven't entered the market yet and how they planned to compete against OnStar.

"We found that (the) business model supporting OnStar is not something that we can support.... There's not justification from a business perspective with a business model that is not sustainable," said Karenann Terrell, director of business connect for DaimlerChrysler. Terrell, by the way, used to call GM her home and was one of the team members that supported OnStar. …

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