The Geneva International Motor Show brings all of the world's leading automobile manufacturers to Switzerland every March. Aside from being a launchpad for new models and futuristic prototypes, it's also a perfect opportunity to survey the state of in-car entertainment options. A walk around the show floor this year suggests that digital radio is making progress, but that there's still some distance to go.
A significant number of manufacturers - among them VW, Audi, BMW, Mini, Mercedes, Land Rover, Porsche, Volvo and Ford - now offer DAB+ digital radio as an option across their entire range. Prices for the option go from €120 up to €1,100, depending on what other navigation or multimedia functions are included.
Outside of this group there is a second tier of manufacturers that have the DAB+ option available for some of their models, and then a third tier that don't offer digital radio at all. Consumers that buy from among this third group - which includes some well-known and highly respected brands - need to rely on aftersales solutions such as Bluetooth connected DAB+ devices.
The auto industry, while arguably being somewhat conservative when it comes to embracing new in-car entertainment technology, clearly recognizes the potential of the "connected car". However a workshop at the Geneva Motor Show this week threw up a range of questions, not least around standards, safety and privacy. The EBU participated in the workshop, emphasizing the continued importance for connected cars of broadcast technologies, and the rich possibilities offered by hybrid radio.
For more on the Geneva Motor Show, see this post from Mathias Coinchon in the EBU TechBlog.