Google gets into in-car telematics and Toyota announces a $50,000 hydrogen-powered sedan

Google gets into in-car telematics and Toyota announces a $50,000 hydrogen-powered sedan

Telefónica O2 Germany announced that all of its GPS-enabled mobile phones now come equipped with free turn-by-turn navigation. The service will be provided by Telmap Navigation and be applicable to more than 40 mobile phones. If successful, Telefónica plans to spread the service to other European countries.

Handset navigation shipments are expected to surge from 30 million in 2010 to 181 million in 2015, a new study from ABI Research forecasts. That represents a compound annual growth rate of 43 percent during the next five years. ABI attributes the handset navigation boom to the arrival of free turn-by-turn navigation solutions from the likes Nokia and Google and to packaged offers from handset vendors and carriers, such as that from Telefónica and Telmap in Germany.

“These new business model paradigms upset the traditional value chain in which the end user pays directly for value-added mobile services,” says Dominique Bonte, telematics and navigation practice director at ABI. As a result, TomTom and Garmin have experienced declining PND sales and have both attempted to make headway into the handset navigation space, with only moderate success.

Google gets into in-car telematics

Google has entered into negotiations with GM to develop an in-car telematics solution. The solution would be built on the Android platform and would enable drivers to synch their vehicles with their smartphones. The finished product would resemble Microsoft’s Sync solution for Ford. If the partnership comes to fruition, it could spell the end of OnStar’s turn-by-turn navigation service, as GM owns OnStar and Android has its own GPS navigation solution. For more on Google’s move into telematics, see ‘Telematics: Google in the driver’s seat?’.

A new frontier for hackers

Computers in cars are easy to hack into and disrupt, suggests a new analysis from scientists at the University of Washington and the University of California, San Diego. The scientists found they could easily bypass security measures and carry out various actions, like disabling the brakes, stopping the engine, falsifying fuel levels, and projecting erroneous speedometer readings.

They also found it easy to tamper with dashboard computers. Displaying arbitrary messages across a head unit, for instance, proved straightforward. As telematics solutions becoming increasingly prevalent, and as OEMs integrate electronic control units into cars with greater frequency, anti-hacking measures will be critical, the study concludes.

New Rugged TRAX

Morey Corporation announced an enhanced version to Rugged TRAX MT-13, its telematics-based fleet management solution for light to medium fleets. The enhanced version features a new accelerometer that reveals when drivers exceed a certain threshold during acceleration or breaking episodes. The solution also features a new Garmin interface that enables two-way messaging and easy synchronization with Garmin PNDs.

Rio gets connected

Rio de Janeiro announced that GPS devices will become mandatory on all public buses that operate within city limits. The city is hosting a conference titled “Intelligent Transportation System—Strategic Role in Urban Mobility” to kick off the program later this month. The service will ensure that buses stay on route and that passengers can receive schedule updates from any device connected to the Internet.

Sezuki plugs in

Sezuki announced plans to test a new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle in Japan. The vehicle will feature a 0.7-liter engine and will be powered by Sanyo Electric Co lithium-ion batteries. Its range will be 10 miles on the battery and 61 miles per gallon on the hybrid engine. If tests go well in the fall, the car could make an appearance in 2011.

Toyota hydrogen sedans

Toyota announced plans to roll out a hydrogen sedan by 2015. The sedan would go for $50,000, the company says, noting that it has slashed the cost of making hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles by 90 percent in the past five years. Early projections listed hydrogen-powered cars at $1 million. The only hydrogen-powered car on the road today is Honda’s FCX Clarity, a limited-production, lease-only vehicle. Toyota said the range of its hydrogen sedan would rival that of any gas-powered car.

Android versus iPhone

Google’s Android outperformed Apple’s iPhone in the first quarter of 2010, placing it second behind Research in Motion’s suite of Blackberry phones. The Android secured 28 percent of the smartphone OS market, while RIM pulled in 36 percent and Apple 21 percent. The smartphone market experienced an overall growth of 57 percent in the first quarter of 2010, according to a report from research firm IDC. Almost 55 million units were shipped worldwide.

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to TU.

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