Microsoft branded auto USB port

It recognizes hundreds of voice commands. It will interface with your Bluetooth-enabled smart phone. It was co-developed with Microsoft. Sounds like Ford's popular SYNC tech, right? Sure does, but it also smacks of Fiat's Blue & Me system that has been in production in Europe since 2007. The technology will be available stateside when the tiny Fiat 500 goes on sale early in 2011. The cost? $500 in a base 500, and the system is standard on uplevel Sport and Lounge models.

Like the Fiat 500 itself, Blue & Me certainly sound compelling, but it's one small niche product in a sea of cars, trucks and crossovers. Perhaps more significant is the fact that Fiat's infotainment tech could be available in Chrysler products as early as 2012. And while B&M apparently doesn't do everything as well as SYNC, it also carries some advantages of its own. For instance, 500 Sport and Lounge buyers can shell out an extra $400 for an optional Tom Tom navigation system that interfaces with the voice command system. Fiat also enables drivers to download their driving habits to a USB stick and load it to a website called Eco:Ville. The site will process the data and give drivers tips for more efficient driving.

So will Blue & Me become as popular as SYNC? Who knows, but at the very least it's nice to see that competition for Ford's system is on the way.


Related GalleryLA 2010: 2011 Fiat 500
2011 Fiat 5002011 Fiat 5002011 Fiat 5002011 Fiat 5002011 Fiat 5002011 Fiat 5002011 Fiat 5002011 Fiat 500

[Source: Detroit Free Press]