Mercedes-Benz Chooses Garmin as Integrated Navigation-System Partner
Navigation provider Garmin has announced that it will furnish future Mercedes-Benz in-car navigation systems, much in the same way that it provides map software for Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment setup. Garmin states that over the next four years, its navigation software will proliferate throughout Benz’s global model portfolio, and that besides offering up map data and turn-by-turn directions, its setup will provide “critical positioning information for Advanced Driver Assistance” functions.
It’s pretty safe to assume that the integration of Garmin tech into Benz dashboards won’t involve a suction-cup mount and a cable running to the cigarette lighter. Instead, the setup should roughly mirror that of Chrysler’s Garmin integration—the infotainment screen (in this case, Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND setup) will simply utilize Garmin maps and data, although hopefully the graphics are more updated than those in Uconnect. (Chrysler’s version looks like an off-the-shelf Garmin unit was zapped into its infotainment system with no changes, although it works intuitively.) Turn-by-turn directions will be available in a secondary gauge-cluster display, as well.
Automakers increasingly are turning to companies like Garmin for their navigation systems, which at first might seem odd given that only a few years ago, such companies represented a form of competition. In the early days of in-car navigation options, aftermarket navigation providers like Garmin and TomTom offered (and still do) inexpensive, reliable systems that could be fitted to the windshield or dashboard of any car. Automakers, on the other hand, often charged a ton of money for their complicated, finicky in-dash setups. Now, the hardware required to run complex infotainment functions like navigation costs less and is more homogeneous, and automakers don’t need bespoke software anymore. Instead, they can buy the software from specialists like Garmin and integrate it into their infotainment suites.
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Besides the Garmin/Chrysler and Garmin/Mercedes-Benz mashups, Garmin also recently provided Suzuki with an entire infotainment system. Mazda currently utilizes TomTom software to run its in-dash navigation functionality, as does Lexus’s CT200h hybrid in Europe. Interestingly, Tom Tom recently announced that it will be providing Mercedes-Benz with real-time traffic info in Europe; the traffic updates will display via Benz’s COMAND infotainment system. The TomTom overlap is a bit odd, but the brand provides a bevy of automakers with its traffic-update tech overseas. It also shows that navigation providers don’t seem to mind who licenses their tech—like all good businesses, the fact that automakers are paying up for them likely is all that counts.