Fiat Group Automobiles and Microsoft Grow Partnership with the Lancia Delta and Fiat ecoDrive in Geneva

Following last year's unveiling of Blue&Me Nav, Fiat Group Automobiles and Microsoft are set to announce strong attach rates and further developments for the system at this year's CeBIT expo and the Geneva Motor Show.

Fiat will show a new demonstration of an innovative application called ecoDrive, which analyses the motorist's driving style and offers suggestions on how to drive more "ecologically". By using the USB port of the versatile Blue&Me system, it is possible to record the characteristics of a motorist's driving style, and using a normal USB key, carry that information into a digital environment. There, the driver can analyse in detail the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of every journey, receive advice on how to drive with a lower impact on the environment, and become part of a community that shares an eco-aware driving ethic.

Blue&Me has now proved to be one of Fiat's most successful service offerings with 80 per cent per cent uptake in all of the pre-ordered Fiat 500s in Europe. The recent launch of Blue&Me Map for the Fiat 500 is also enjoying a huge sales success. Microsoft will present a Fiat 500 with Blue&Me Map at its booth in Hannover at this year's CeBIT.

In Geneva, Lancia Automobiles will globally launch the new Lancia Delta, with Blue&Me or Blue&Me Nav as an optional extra. Blue&Me Nav provides a simple and intuitive voice-controlled navigation system via a Bluetooth interface; as standard it also incorporates a USB port, MP3 player and SMS text interpreter. Blue&Me Nav's key functions such as phone, music player and navigation are built into the instrument panel, allowing drivers to listen to their favourite music, make phone calls and use the navigation system via the hands-free interface. The speech recognition technology ensures drivers have hands-free access to all Blue&Me's features in a completely safe manner when in motion.

As well as automakers and their suppliers, many popular aftermarket manufacturers also incorporate Microsoft software into their offerings. At CeBIT Microsoft will showcase several state-of-the-art navigation/multimedia head units built on Microsoft's Windows Automotive operating system.

Microsoft Auto has seen further momentum in the US with Ford Sync following its launch last year. Ford has estimated Sync will be a massive hit in the US car market with a projected 1 million cars sold equipped with it by early 2009. With the launch of the Ford Focus in the US, Sync has become the most requested feature in all Focus models, particularly among the 18- to 35-year-old audience.

At the CeBIT expo in Hannover, the international automotive supplier Continental AG will showcase a prototype of its next-generation Multimedia Platform (MMP), based on the Microsoft Auto platform. It includes navigation, high-end multimedia applications and interfaces that connect multiple portable electronic entertainment devices.

The Microsoft Auto platform allows Continental to focus on its key competences, such as system design, vehicle integration, driver assistance systems and safety systems. This also means its MMP is easily upgradeable, enabling Continental customers to keep up with the latest technologies and standards.

Carmakers benefit from this concept by getting a tailor-made system in a much shorter lead time, which allows more time to integrate the latest trends in consumer electronics into the automotive environment. Ultimately, this enables motorists and their passengers to enjoy the latest infotainment technology as soon as it is available.

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