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The Challenge of the Car Dash

Car companies give customers exactly what they want, says Connected Vehicle Trade Association

Testing is going on right now in Michigan for new versions of connected cars.

That’s according to Valerie Shuman, vice president of Industry Programs for the Connected Vehicle Trade Association.

Though actual deployment of cars that “talk” to each other or to a manufacturer is still a ways off, the test of 3,000 vehicles is important for safety reasons, Shuman told attendees of the Arbitron Client Conference in Annapolis, Md. on Thursday. Cars are involved in some 33,000 deaths a year. “That’s just the deaths.” More are injured, she said.

Fifty percent of drivers say they want a connected car. When Ford debuted its Sync infotainment system, “people didn’t even know what model it was. They just showed up and said, ‘I want Sync,’” said Shuman.

Car companies give customers exactly what they want, she said, noting that the long lead design time for a vehicle makes it tough to remain on top of technology. The average car on the road now in the U.S. is 11 years old and that means the dash in those cars was probably designed 16 years ago.

Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs says car makers view radio as a means to deliver content, though how that content will be delivered in the future will change. HD Radio is an important part of automakers’ plans for the so-called “digital dashboard,” he says.

While automakers try offering consumers more options and figure out the business model for the dashboard of the future, Jacobs urged attendees to make sure their broadcast content “is comparable to what consumers can get” from other audio, like Pandora or satellite radio.

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