The custom vehicles at the SEMA Show tend to all be about speed and style, plus a few off-roaders thrown in for good measure, but Mercedes-Benz is taking advantage of the event this year to give its future midsize commercial van for the US a sneak preview.
It seems like the commercial van market is booming at the moment. After years of consumers being limited to elderly choices like the Ford E-Series, Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana and various Dodge/Ram models, these days, buyers have fresh options in multiple sizes from companies like Ford, Ram and Nissan. Now, Mercedes-Benz is previewing an expansion of its van lineup with concept versions of a new midsize commercial van called Metris at this week's SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
We recently reported that a growing number of cars are offering head-up display units from the factory, but Garmin has come up with an innovative device to add this helpful technology to just about any vehicle. For just $129.99, the Garmin HUD unit is small, portable and can display navigation commands on the windshield (or an attached reflector lens) so the driver doesn't have to look away from the road.
Navigation systems have been coming down in price lately, making in-car directions more accessible to the masses. At the same time massive tech companies like Apple and Microsoft have gotten into the game as well, and as TheDetroitBureau.com reports, a new study shows that these forces are converging to quadruple the systems by 2019.
Garmin, a company known largely for its aftermarket navigation systems, will officially debut its first factory-installed in-car infotainment system at this week's New York Auto Show. In the past, Garmin has partnered with some automakers to offer pop-up navi systems as an affordable solution to buyers who want the functionality in their vehicles. This new system, which will be available in most 2013 model year Suzukis, now offers a full suite of infotainment tech.
Last year at IFA, we had a chance to check out a beta version of Gracenote's MoodGrid, an Android tablet app that automatically creates a music playlist using a 10x10 grid with Positive, Energentic, Calm and Dark criteria placed on each axis. Select a place on the graph and it automatically creates a playlist based on your mood. Now, the app has been scaled down and ported into a Garmin head unit, which means MoodGrid could be coming to a major OEM as soon as sometime this year.
Garmin has recalled a total of 1.25 million portable GPS units for a possible fire risk, with 796,000 of those sold here in the United States. According to Consumer Reports, the problem stems from a faulty battery that may cause the device to overheat while in use. So far, there have been no injuries or property damage due to the defect, and fewer than 10 units have been reported with the problem.
With an increasing number of new cell phones offering free, integrated turn-by-turn navigation, the days of the standalone navigation device must surely be numbered. Of course, those dedicated navigators still offer some features you can't (yet) get elsewhere, such as the Darth Vader or Dennis Hopper voices for TomTom and downloadable vehicles for the Garmin Nuvi.
Navigation systems have quickly gone from being an interactive way to direct one from Point A to Point B to massive infotainment centerpieces capable of MP3 player integration, web browsing and wifi. Auto Express is reporting that GPS units could go 3D as soon as next year, because advancements in hardware could make the technology feasible with already available dual image LCD screens (like the one in the 2010 Jaguar XJ).