We’ve already seen McLaren announce a similar plan for its MP4-12C supercar, but could in-car WiFi be about to hit the mainstream?
That may well be the case with US Ford president Mark Fields confirming its plans to install WiFi into “selected models” from next year. Which models were not revealed.
"While you're driving to grandma's house, your spouse can be finishing the holiday shopping and the kids can be chatting with friends and updating their Facebook profiles," said Fields. "And you're not paying for yet another mobile subscription or piece of hardware because Ford will let you use technology you already have."
While Field’s description here is somewhat ambiguous, what Ford is planning is relatively simple: install USB ports which support mobile broadband dongles and fire out this connection around the car using built-in WiFi. This seems a natural evolution of the BMW’s web connected iDrive system and contrasts with Chrysler and GM’s optional ‘Uconnect’ and ‘WiFi by Autonet’ tech which are locked down, dealer installed optional extras with monthly service charges.
The challenge for Ford, however, is obvious: how will it insure pan-global dongle support? Run a car on Windows XP? Hmmmn. Furthermore, while Ford’s approach could potentially be the most straightforward yet is it also unnecessary? Phones have built in web connectivity and if you’re the type of buyer to consider in-car WiFi you probably own MiFi, or a dongle for your laptop and more than one if you have a family.
Making powered USB standard in all cars yes, but in-car WiFi? I’m not so sure it’s necessary…