Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Chrysler Will Offer Wireless Internet Access In 2009 Models

Vittorio Hernandez - AHN News Writer

Auburn Hills, MI (AHN) - Chrysler is set to roll out on Thursday its 2009 automobiles with wireless Internet access. The UConnect Web feature of its 2009 models, however, is being question over its effect on vehicle safety as the driver might be distracted by his car's downloading speed and other hi-tech features.

Chrysler would be the first vehicle maker to feature wireless Internet on its models in an effort to recapture lost market. As of May the car maker's sales was down 19.3 percent compared to year-ago levels.

Scott Slagle, senior manager of global marketing strategy for Chrysler, said there is a demand for Internet access fueled by the desire of motorists to be connected wherever they are.

By July 1 California and Washington state would implement its hand-free law which bans motorists from using their mobile phone unless they have a headset or other hands-free device.

Jonathan Adkins, spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, opposed the availability of such devices for drivers as it would surely distract them. The association insisted the only safe way to drive is not to use any electronic devices while behind the steering wheel, whether with a headset or none.

Chrysler pointed out the wireless Internet device was not intended to be used by the motorist if the car is on the road. But it acknowledged it could not stop drivers from holding on the steering wheel with one hand and the mouse on the other hand.

The auto firm will formally introduce the new technology to the motoring public on Thursday in Detroit. By September its 2009 models would be available in car showrooms. The wireless Internet access is part of Chrysler's UConnect system which also provides Bluetooth connection for mobile phone and MP3 player integration with the car's stereo.

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