Audi is set to become the first car company to offer WiFi as a factory option, it claims, although a handful of other car makers offer WiFi as a dealer option.
The 2011 Audi 8 option will provide a UMTS connection that can light up as many as eight devices with an Internet connection, announced the company. Users just insert a SIM card into the car’s Bluetooth “radio” or they may use their own Bluetooth phone for the connection at speeds up to 7.2Mbit/second. It also provides encryption for security. Looks like the A8 will be a pretty souped up car as the user interface may allow handwriting recognition too, says ZDNet.
Chrysler started the OEM WiFi ball rolling when it launched a UConnect hotspot program in August, 2008. Since then General Motors’ Cadillac and Volkswagen also offer optional WiFi hotspots—all supplied by Autonet Mobile. Ford is also launching this summer, a WiFi Internet car connection to its Sync radios.
A third of Americans want to check email and access the web in their cars, said Ford citing a Consumer Electronics Association study.