By Amy Gilroy
A few disruptor developments in OEM infotainment have come rapid fire this year, including General Motors’ (NYSE:GM) revelation this week that it will provide millions of cars with embedded 4G LTE hotspots.
Also, Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) and General Motors (NYSE:GM) made waves by opening up their software platforms to developers, as announced in January.
Here we take a look at a specific car that’s worthy of a second look, the Tesla S (Tesla Motors Inc., NASDAQ:TSLA). Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, has been compared to Steve Jobs as a disruptor to the auto market, and he’s making waves in car entertainment too.
We’ve mentioned that the Tesla S has a 17-inch screen before, but there’s more features, which signal the future of entertainment and convenience.
Here’s an example: when you approach the car (all electric, $57K base price), the lights come and the door handles actually extend out so you can open them easily.
There’s an embedded modem in the radio, so there’s no Sim card or air card or smartphone to deal with. Connecting to the Internet is automatic.
“You get in the car, you’re not taking your phone out of your pocket and figuring out where to put it, you’re not taking your key out of the pocket. You have access to high bandwidth embedded in the modem. That is definitely a future direction,” said Strategy Analytics analyst Roger Lanctot.
Engadget was also impressed. “We’ve seen plenty of cars that turn on the lights when you near, but the physical changing of the car, the handles pushing themselves out just in time to greet your arrival, certainly feels very inviting. It’s almost as if the car wants you to drive it…”
As you drive, Google maps (Google Inc., NASDAQ:GOOG) is streamed live to the car. Actually that can be a problem at times says Lanctot in a review here. As the map can pixelate or disappear in poor cell service areas.
But then the beauty of the system is that it can be updated at any time, over the air. The large 17-inch screen can show you the latest updates as they occur and let you choose to download them over night.
Tesla already issued an update to fix “a few minor door handle and touchscreen behaviors,” said its blog. The update also lets you connect to a phone to work with apps for charging the car and “pre-conditioning” the car in the heat or cold
Lanctot found some other problems with the entertainment system: the screen looks great at night but it’s subject to glare during the day.
There’s a video from The Car Coach that shows the system in action.
The car radio system runs on Linux. It is a 200 watt, seven speaker system (2 tweeters, one center channel plus four drivers) with AM/FM/HD radio. It has flash memory for up to 500 songs and it supports MP3, AAC, and MP4 music formats.
The Telsa S electric car is known for its quick acceleration and 300 mile range (not to mention a recent controversy with The New York Times.) Tesla is also planning a lower cost, $30,000 version in the future.
By the way, returning to the Musk v. Jobs comparison, Tesla’s VP of Sales & Ownership Experience is George Blankenship, the former head of Apple Stores (Apple Inc., NASDAQ:AAPL).
Source: Strategy Analytics
Amy Gilroy is the Editor of CEoutlook and a Contributing Author to Satellite Radio Playground and Market Playground. Amy has been a fan of car audio longer than she cares to admit. At age 17, she was told an amplifier could make the car radio sound better, and from then on, she was hooked. Prior to launching CEoutlook, she was a Senior Editor at TWICE magazine.
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