OnStar President Chet Huber sees a telematics future bright with services now delivered by portable cell phones, computers and personal digital assistants firmly embedded in cars and trucks - much like a home away from home, or office.
But John Slosar, Visteon's director of telematics and multimedia systems, says consumers will push automakers to find a way that popular electronics devices can be plugged into cars and trucks.
Since its split from Ford Motor Co. in 2000, Visteon () handles a majority of Ford's electronics work.
Huber runs General Motors' tele-matics arm, OnStar (), which is betting its future on embedding telematics. That means combining in-vehicle electronic devices, wireless connections and infoentertainment services.
Visteon, on the other hand, hopes to lock in on a new wireless-network technology called Bluetooth that lets consumers use their personal tech toys and gizmos in Visteon's Bluetooth Module vehicle environment.
Both would use a hands-free voice interface.
Huber's predictionsHuber sees these telematics trends in the coming years:
Slosar's viewSlosar says Huber is wrong on several points.
His notion: Choice is the key to telematics becoming popular in tomorrow's cars. Consumers want to choose telematics products and services, he says. They also expect safety and security features to be part of the cost of the car and not coming in separate monthly bills, such as OnStar.
Slosar's primary trends encompass vehicle-centric and consumer-centric products and services - wireless Web browsing, wireless e-mail and the like.
"The wireless guys will build and develop the models for these services independent from the auto industry," he said.
"As such, many of these features will migrate to the vehicle after they are launched in the telecommunications and consumer electronics industry."
Slosar says Visteon's approach is to:
Meanwhile analyst Dan Garretson with Forrester Research () in Cambridge, Mass., concedes that while telematics technology may be cool, state legislatures ultimately will force consumers to adopt telematics. Some 45 legislatures are considering laws banning the use of hand-held cell phones in moving vehicles. New York passed such a law this year.
Garretson adds that consumers are not likely to clamor for bandwidth-intensive services, as Huber suggests. Garretson says the primary services customers will adopt - voice communication, navigation assistance, emergency assistance and limited information - will mainly be low bandwidth.
Mike Brennan is a Grand Rapids, Mich., writer and publisher. He can be reached at