Chrysler’s new tech suite includes Web access

Safety advocate voices concerns

Chrysler LLC on June 26 launched technology offerings that will compete against Ford Motor Co.’s Sync system.

One of those features will turn vehicles into Internet hot spots, the first time such a technology will be included in mass-market vehicles.

The system, called uconnect web, uses the same cellular technology relied upon by smartphones to create a wireless network. Passengers can log in to the network to surf the Web on a laptop, play video games or send photos.

Uconnect web is an aftermarket product that will be installed by auto dealers. It is being provided by Autonet Mobile Inc., of Marin County, Calif. The system will be priced at $449 and cost $29 a month.

Uconnect web is part of a larger suite of in-vehicle technology offerings called uconnect offered by Chrysler parts supplier Mopar. The company is positioning uconnect to compete against Ford’s Sync system of voice-activated controls.

The system, which will be available in August, includes a voice-activated phone, iPod compatibility, a hard drive for storing music, Global Positioning System and access to Sirius Satellite Radio’s back seat TV system.

Besides the dealer-installed Web system, the rest of uconnect will be available as an option in most Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles. Some parts of the system, such as the uconnect studios back seat TV, will be available only in larger vehicles such as the Chrysler 300, Dodge Grand Caravan and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Uconnect web will be available in all Chrysler vehicles.

Using the Internet on the road raises concern among safety advocates.

“You don’t want a driver to drive and work on the Internet at the same time,” said Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association. “Driving is a very complex task.”

She said it’s important that only passengers use the system and called on automakers to develop uniform standards for devices that distract drivers.

Chrysler says the Web service should only be used by passengers. If installed, a front screen can only display movies and TV when the vehicle is in park.

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