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CES 2010: Fiat's Telematic System Has Apps

Fiat's new telematic system is as underpowered as a Geo Metro, but it does have one saving grace

1 min read
CES 2010: Fiat's Telematic System Has Apps

Last spring my colleague Dave Schneider hacked up a fuel-economy gauge that would work for just about any car, including his ancient and underpowered 1997 Geo Metro (“A Fuel-Economy Gauge for the Rest of Us,” April 2009).

Right around the same time, Fiat and Microsoft announced a collaboration called Blue&Me. It’s similar to the Ford and Chrysler telematic systems that we’ve reported on, but, frankly, seems to do quite a bit less; it’s mainly for connecting your phone and MP3 player to the car’s audio system, as Fiat itself admits: 

Blue&Me The simplest and easiest way to communicate.

Blue&Me, the result of the collaboration between Fiat Auto and Microsoft, will change the way you communicate and listen to music on the move.

Using a series of voice commands, without taking your hands off the wheel you can telephone and listen to incoming SMS messages, interpreted on your Bluetooth Blue&Me mobile phone, consult your phonebook and listen to MP3s. Blue&MeTM supports most mobile phones with Bluetooth technology.

But it has one key feature, a port for a USB thumb drive. According to a rep at the Microsoft Auto area at CES, it’s to allow for updates if, for example, the software in the car doesn't support the phone you buy two years from now. But it’s also to allow you to add widgets or apps that Microsoft or Fiat come up with. And the first app was, you guessed it, a fuel-economy gauge.

Isn’t that great? If you buy a new Fiat, you’re all set. Otherwise, you can follow Dave’s hack. Even if you’re still driving an old Geo Metro.

The Conversation (0)
This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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