There’s no shortage of news surrounding the connected vehicle, and for good reason. These “computers on wheels” are quickly becoming the next hot connected device. Sooner rather than later, a car without in-vehicle connectivity will be like a truck without power steering, or a car with a cassette player in the dash.
Another change in the status quo may be how consumers feel about the emissions streaming from their vehicle’s tailpipes. While the mainstream market doesn’t seem ready to discard power, speed, and attractive body styles for remarkable gas mileage and a low carbon footprint, EV (electric vehicle) and hybrid manufacturers are making progress by offering sleek, connected options.
Last week, Tesla Motors, www.teslamotors.com, unveiled its new Model X prototype, which the company says blends “the best of an SUV with the benefits of a minivan.” The major difference, of course, is the zero emissions part—that’s right, zero.
Tesla’s Model X has DeLorean-like rear doors, or “Falcon Wings,” that open straight up for easy entry and exit. Inside, the design features the Tesla Touchscreen, which will provide easy access to infotainment and connectivity features. Tesla expects to begin production of the Model X in late 2013 for delivery in early 2014.
Another innovative car company, Audi, www.audiusa.com, recently partnered with NVIDIA, www.nvidia.com, a manufacturer of computer and mobile processors for cellphones, tablets, and auto infotainment systems, to power next-generation Audi vehicles.
Beginning in 2013, the car company will begin installing NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 quad-core mobile processors across its entire line of Audi vehicles. The two companies say the integration will enable a more advanced and intuitive in-vehicle experience.
Audi says the new infotainment and instrument-cluster systems will use “Visual Computing Modules” specifically designed for automotive applications. This means there will be a simple user interface with clear, vibrant graphics and fast processing speed, which will help provide drivers with the information they need in the least distracting way possible.
According to Dan Vivoli, senior vice president of NVIDIA, the company is working with Audi to narrow the gap between consumer electronics and in-vehicle technology systems. He says the best way to do this is by “leveraging technology from the very latest smartphones and tablets.”
The ultimate goal with this integration and others, such as Audi’s Google Earth integration last year, is to provide an in-vehicle experience that makes driving more enjoyable—while also contributing to a safe environment for drivers.
For more on the latest connected vehicles, pick up a copy of Connected World magazine’s March/April issue, which unveils the winners of the 2012 Connected World Connected Car of the Year. Winners are showcased in the small, mid-size, luxury, and ultra-luxury categories.