Editor's note: An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated the number of people who use Pandora's native integration. It has been corrected.
The center stack is already a hub for entertainment and navigation, but what if it could help you get half off a turkey sandwich at a deli that's just around the corner?
For automakers and their technology partners, it's an appetizing thought.
Analysts say infotainment systems that offer drivers relevant, location-based promotions from restaurants and other businesses in real time are the next frontier for in-vehicle marketing.
Radio has long been the medium of choice to deliver ads to drivers, but the revenues from those ads always have accrued to broadcasters. With automakers interested in monetizing their infotainment systems, in-vehicle advertising offers the promise of potential revenue from opportunistic marketers hoping to reach drivers on the go in more creative and more targeted ways.
Could McDonald's, for instance, send limited-time deals specifically to Ford or Honda drivers when they near a restaurant during special promotions?
It's not out of the question, says Joe Laszlo, senior director of the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence.
The car is "a very natural place for location-aware advertising. The whole industry needs to figure out what the best formats are for delivering ads in-dash," Laszlo says. "When done sensitively with consumer awareness of why and how their information is being used, I think it can be a fantastic opportunity for marketers."
Yet analysts say this prospect also raises questions about driver distraction and whether there will be a standard delivery method for in-vehicle ads coming through the center stack.
Companies already have toyed with the idea of offering coupons using the vehicle's location. In 2013, the sandwich chain Quiznos partnered with radio personalization service Aha Radio and Placecast, a mobile location-based ad company, in a "proof of concept" project that demonstrated how an ad could be delivered to a driver and be converted to a sale.
In a video demo, the driver linked his smartphone with the car through its USB port while the Aha Radio app was running.
Then, as he neared a Quiznos, a radio ad pitched a free drink and chips with the purchase of a sandwich. The ad was accompanied by a Quiznos logo on the vehicle screen along with the address of the restaurant and a text display of the offer.
The ad instructed the driver to press the thumbs-up button on the touch-screen display to receive the coupon, which was then emailed to the smartphone. The driver carried the phone into the restaurant, placed his order and showed the coupon to a Quiznos cashier.
Audio and infotainment company Harman, which owns Aha, hasn't moved forward with the project, according to a spokeswoman.
In another example, Detroit tech company Lochbridge has built location-based ad capabilities into its LAYR infotainment concept.
LAYR can fetch available offers from nearby restaurants, which show up momentarily on the screen with a quick-response code that people can scan with their phones. LAYR also can detect fuel levels and, in turn, search for nearby gas stations.
During a demo for Automotive News in November, company logos for several nearby gas stations appeared on the display unit, along with fuel prices.
The system picks up drivers' preferences, too, so if they like, say, Marathon, LAYR will help them navigate to one of that brand's stations.