PAUL MCVEIGH

Geneva's message: Get connected

Paul McVeigh is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.Paul McVeigh is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
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Automakers will be trying to show in Geneva that their new cars will be able to keep up with the latest Internet in-car information and communications trends.

They need to.

According to a German study, smartphones and Internet access are more important to the majority of young people than owning a car.

Some 75 percent of 18-25-year-olds said they couldn't imagine living for a month without a mobile phone or Internet access when they were questioned by Professor Stefan Bratzel's automotive institute at the Bergisch Gladbach University of Applied Sciences.

But 60 percent of the nearly 1,300 survey participants said they could easily do without a car for a month.

It's likely that uninterrupted Internet access will soon become a precondition to selling a car, Prof. Bratzel says, and young people will expect their car to be able to do these things:

• Download information about nearby bars and shops

• Allow access to social network sites such as Facebook

• Download music

• Enable access to cheap Internet telephone services such as Skype

• Reliably receive e-mails.

BMW seems to be the automaker taking the trend most serious with its Vision ConnectedDrive roadster concept that will debut in Geneva. The concept highlights how cars can be part of a networked world.

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