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Most Cars To Offer iPod Connections In 2009

El Segundo, Calif. — More than half of all U.S. car models sold next year will offer optional support for the iPod, as car makers increasingly use technology to boost car sales, said iSuppli.

In 2008, 39 percent of U.S. vehicle models are expected to offer iPod integration options, a figure that is expected to reach 58 percent in 2009. Car makers will also offer USB interfaces for connections to many portable devices such as MP3 players and flash drives, on a third of all vehicle models next year, up from a penetration of 16 percent in 2008, said iSuppli.

 “The automotive industry is at the point where in-vehicle technologies — or the lack of them — are influencing sales,” said Phil Magney automotive research VP for iSuppli. “The charge toward greater technological integration has been led by car OEMs like Hyundai and Honda, which are making USB/iPod combination interfaces standard on many of their vehicles. It’s also been spurred by OEMs like Audi and Mercedes, which offer integrated Media Device Gateways that allow any device imaginable to integrate with a vehicle.”

U.S. car companies are also adopting Bluetooth wireless connections. After achieving a 55 percent availability in new U.S. vehicle models in 2008, Bluetooth will rise to 82 percent in 2009, either as standard or optional equipment.

Many new implementations of Bluetooth also offer advanced voice recognition and support of streaming audio, not just hands free calling from a cellphone.

 iSuppli also found that hard disk drives (HDDs) used in infotainment systems will be available in nearly one-third of the 2009 model lineup, or in approximately 88 models. The hard drives are used to store digital maps, images and tens of millions of points of interest for navigation. Among the companies using HDD in their cars are Chrysler, Mercedes, Ford, Volkswagen and Nissan.

Many car companies are also expanding their offerings of real-time traffic in the 2009 model year including Ford, Volkswagen, Mercedes and GM, iSuppli found.