Fiat Auto And Microsoft Team Up For A Long-Term Strategic Automotive Partnership

Goal is developing innovative in-vehicle telematics solutions

Fiat Auto and Microsoft's Automotive Business Unit join forces for a long-term strategic automotive partnership developing innovative telematics solutions for motorists. Fiat Auto and Microsoft's novel approach of designing in-vehicle telematics systems combines Fiat Auto's experience and research in telematics services as well as Microsoft's expertise in providing standard platforms, services, and applications.

The objective of the partnership is to design telematics systems which will provide drivers with a solution to communicate effectively with the outside world. The telematics systems will be flexible, easy to access and use. Therefore, they will allow users' own devices such as cellular phones, Pocket PC or Windows Mobile devices to integrate with the vehicle. Motorists will be able to use standard information services, including web services, and a hands-free phone. Bluetooth connectivity ensures that drivers' personal address book and contacts will be easily accessible in the car as well as digital music through a USB connection. This is available through high-quality voice activation. In addition, drivers will also have access to a wealth of services, including off board navigation and real-time traffic information such as those offered by bConnect. The joint Fiat Auto-Microsoft system will be based on standard hardware and Windows Automotive, which enables Fiat Auto to implement a software design that can be customized and upgraded, according to customers' preferences. Both companies plan to develop a system that inter-operates with the vehicle Controller Area Network (CAN) of the vehicles for diagnostic data.

Magneti Marelli, Fiat Group automotive components' arm, will contribute to the venture by building the hardware on which the systems are integrated. The device from Magneti Marelli will be based on a reference design developed by Microsoft and Fiat Auto.

"Fiat Auto is at the forefront of telematics, having been amongst the first carmakers to feature a wide range of devices in all its vehicles. We are very pleased to have Microsoft, a great innovator in the software industry and a leading expert in designing flexible platforms, as a partner in a unique business model based on recreating, on board, the computer world and structure", says Walter Mortara, Senior Vice President, Product and Process Engineering of Fiat Auto.

"Fiat Auto has consistently developed cars that have been affordable, practical and have greatly contributed to the motorization of entire countries. We are very excited in teaming up with Fiat Auto as we can bring industry-leading, yet practical telematics solutions, to motorists", comments Pieter Knook, Senior Vice President of the Mobile and Embedded Devices Division of Microsoft Corporation. "By combining Fiat's knowledge of the auto industry with our knowledge of software, together we will be able to meet the needs of drivers and passengers for an enjoyable and safer in-car experience."

Published 16 July 2004 Melanie Carter
 

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