The auto industry, specifically in the U.S., is in the crapper, along with the economy. One of the major reasons is because they produce boring cars. Despite the massive amount of innovation taking place in wireless, mobile, and consumer electronics, the offerings from Chevrolet, Ford, Chrysler, and others has been pretty stale. Of course, they have concept cars, proudly displayed at State Fairs across the country, and they have one or two models in the entire lineup that have something special, but for the most part, it’s the same old cars and trucks, year after year.
The other problem is that the ‘innovations’ are typically not worth the expense to the consumer. For instance, the Chevy Silverado is now available in a Hybrid model. Great news, as that’s one of the more thirsty gas-guzzlers in Chevy’s line. Unfortunately, the Hybrid model costs several thousand dollars more than the normal one, and only gets you an additional 5-7mpg. Snore.
Likewise for the electronics that make up the so-called ‘Driver Information Center’. You can get Bluetooth built-in, but it’s $150 or more. Contrast that with this deck from Jensen, with Bluetooth, iPod integration, a front-facing USB input, and even an SD card slot, for $130. Far more features than the factory stereo, and that’s just the bottom of the barrel. For $200+, you can really get down and dirty.
Chrysler is running with this idea with their new GEM Peapod, sporting full-on integration with an iPhone or iPod Touch. Not only can you use the phone to start the car’s electric engine, you can also then control music and a number of other functions through its touchscreen interface. Brilliant.
This is yet another example of technology enriching and enabling our real lives – eliminating the need to keep up with a bulky keychain, instead using your cell phone – which you pretty much always have on you. I love it, and definitely congratulate Apple and Chrysler for finally seeing the value in innovating together.