Suzuki-Garmin Partnership: Wise?

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Garmin, one of the top GPS navigational device manufacturers announced their in-dash technology will be coming to future Suziki models. In the wake of the release of the NHSTA’s Driver Distraction Guidelines for In-Vehicle Electronic Devices, it is unknown whether or not this partnership is the best idea.

The system to be installed in most 2013 Suzuki vehicles sold in the United States will feature a 6.1-inch high-resolution touch screen display, CD player, AM/FM radio, USB slot for iPod/iPhone connectivity, internal flash memory, and Bluetooth. The system has been referred to as an “infotainment” system and will also be offered in Suzukis sold in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, North America, and Russia.

The in-dash GPS device will feature turn-by-turn voice navigation including street names and lane guidance, as well as speed limit and traffic information. The GPS system will access the vehicle speed sensors to help give location information as accurately as possible when a GPS signal is not available, such as when traveling through a tunnel.

Other nifty features include Pandora integration, an SD card slot to more easily load map updates to the system, and backup camera support. The system is a first for Garmin, as it has never before offered an in-dash model. Prior models included in certain Suzuki, BMW, and Volvo cars were all portable, hand-held GPS devices.

“We’re pleased to extend our cooperation with Suzuki Motor Corporation by providing our fully integrated infotainment platform that goes beyond GPS navigation and provides a whole range of information and entertainment functions,” said Matt Munn, managing director automotive OEM for Garmin. “By leveraging our long-standing experience in developing navigation software, user interfaces and hardware design, we created an integrated system that is easy to use and makes driving more enjoyable.”

But does it make the drive safer? When referencing new guidelines recently set out by the NHSTA, calling for an end to scrolling text for song information and, the kicker, dynamic map views, one would conclude ‘no,’ . GPS device manufacturers are responding to the guidelines and asking for a review. After all, what use is an in-dash GPS navigation device where the map doesn’t change as you move along, in real-time?

To make this Suzuki-Garmin partnership more successful, the NHTSA must address these guidelines and figure out a better way to keep our drivers safe. If not, this author predicts a decline in the desire for in-dash GPS devices overall, and possibly GPS devices across the board. With in-vehicle systems accounting for a mere .5% of all distracted driver accidents (17% of all accidents), there are other driving issues and habits which require attention first. Do you agree? Share your thoughts by commenting.

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Khristen Foss

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