In January, Nissan Motor will steer what has been mainly a luxury-car feature--the navigation screen--into new territory when it offers the standalone option in the Sentra compact for $400.
The color screen, supplied by Robert Bosch, provides navigation but also can be connected to an iPod or MP3 player and a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone.
The nav screen has become like the iPhone for cars--a gold mine for suppliers striving to provide applications such as traffic reports, parking-assist systems, and backup cameras.
This year automakers will install about 1.4 million navigation systems worth $2.6 billion in vehicles sold in North America, according to iSuppli, a Los Angeles consulting firm that tracks sales of consumer electronics. That's up from 890,000 systems worth $1.8 billion installed in 2004.
"By 2016, one in three cars will have a navigation system of some sort," says Phil Magney, vice president of iSuppli's automotive practice. If that prediction pans out, nav screens could be standard equipment in about 5.4 million vehicles sold annually in North America, he says.
Lots of action Functions are proliferating on navigation screens. Active parking assist on Ford and Toyota vehicles Telephone controls Traffic and points-of-interest information Controls for the radio and air conditioner Route guidance Fuel economy performance information for hybrids Live video from backup camera TV programs
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