California is not known as a carmaking state, but every carmaker is here. And few have been in Silicon Valley longer than Volkswagen Group with its Electronics Research Lab. There they try to crack the code on loading cars up with social media, connected navigation, portable integration, and more without distracting you to death.
I spent a day with wide-ranging access to the VW lab, in conversation with its director, Peter Oel. I came away with the impression that VW, like the rest of the industry, feels the tech cat is out of the bag and we aren't going back to a day when our cars are digital ghettos. That's also because carmakers know that high-touch technology is a key way they'll clobber their competitors, but they also keep their eye on the rear view as the government makes more and more noises that sound like.
It's important to note that the VW parent company doesn't keep its brands on equal tech footing. Our most recent review of a VW was the, which could use a swift kick in the pants when it comes to tech. The company's pricey but it's the Audi products that steal the show to.