As Chrysler's alliance with Fiat deepens and becomes more profitable, Ford is being threatened and may be surpassed in terms of technological advances. It’s believed that the primary reason why consumers choose Ford, Lincoln or Mercury is Ford's 'Sync' revolutionary tool that was jointly developed with Microsoft and enables voice control of phones and audio systems.
But now that Fiat is introducing a similar system on its 500 supermini, it may lose some of its lead. The fact is Fiat worked with Microsoft to launch a version of the system in Europe before Ford did in the US. Chrysler’s vehicles already had the U-Connect option but it was less user-friendly than Ford's system. Fiat's Blue & Me offers voice control of radio, phone and music players connected either by USB or Bluetooth.
Voice connectivity with the Tom Tom navigation system is offered as an option. At the recently held Los Angeles auto show, it was surprising that this system wasn’t as popular as it should've been at the Fiat 500 launch. Of course, fans will be pleased to know that this option would be available in Chrysler's range as early as 2012.
Joe Grace, vehicle line executive for the Fiat 500, said that Blue & Me will enable customers to use their handheld and mobile devices while still maintaining their driving focus.
It’s fascinating how Blue & Me, when combined with the navigation system, can record data about the driver's habits and download it to a USB stick. These data could then be sent to a Web site from Fiat dubbed Eco:Ville where drivers will get the chance to compete for the lowest fuel consumption and emissions.
Blue & Me comes with a $500 option package including leather-wrapped steering wheel with Sat Nav controls. In higher trim models such as Sport (priced at $17,500) or Lounge (priced at $19,500), this option becomes standard equipment. For $400, the navigation system can be fitted on the 500 Sport and Lounge. [via freep]