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Harman: Carmakers Going After PNDs

Stamford, Conn. — Automakers are looking to compete more aggressively with the personal navigation device (PND) market, OEM supplier Harman International said.

For Mercedes, Harman has developed a “hybrid” navigation system that combines the benefits of a conventional PND “with the complete functionality of a fully integrated in-dash infotainment system,” the company said in its second-quarter financial statement.

The product will appear in eight Mercedes models starting in the second half of 2010.

“Other OEMs are interested, too,” said chairman/CEO Dinesh Paliwal.

The hybrid looks like this: a control head with screen will mount in a cradle connected to a hideaway processing box that includes hands-free Bluetooth and music storage, Paliwal said. The design makes it possible for automakers to offer a navigation/infotainment system without designing it into the vehicle three years in advance of its availability to consumers, he explained.

The solution will be less expensive than integrated navigation/infotainment systems, “opening up competitive doors” with aftermarket PNDs, he said. “There are tens of millions of cars without integrated systems… [that] automakers can now go after.”