Thursday, March 20, 2008
Chrysler, the third-largest U.S. automaker, says it will be the first car company to provide in-car Internet access.
The feature will be added to existing vehicles by dealers beginning this year and later be installed on the assembly line, said Frank Klegon, Chrysler's product development chief.
The technology will allow passengers to search Web pages using signals from mobile phone towers. Consumers initially would need a subscription to a wireless phone carrier to ensure uninterrupted coverage.
"We want to make the radio itself a WiFi port," Klegon said.
The announcement came the same day that chief executive Robert Nardelli said Chrysler planned to expand sales in its Mopar parts division by targeting owners who want to customize their vehicles.
Chrysler will initiate the effort by offering an off-road navigation system, chrome grille, heavy-duty bumper and a special sound system for its Jeep Wrangler, Nardelli said at the New York International Auto Show.
The emphasis on Mopar, which provides dealers with replacement and accessory parts, is a turnabout for Chrysler after it considered selling the unit last year.
"We're aggressively moving to capture more of the customer service and parts business by focusing on what dealers need to increase their profitability," Nardelli said.