Mobile Future

Cars go wireless

Gridlock costs the average peak-period traveler almost 40 hours a year in delays and costs the U.S. more than $78 billion a year in related losses.  Wireless companies like TrafficCast are already offering a solution and now it looks like the auto companies are jumping on board.

As Olga Kharif puts it in a nice piece on BusinessWeek Online,  "Ford is getting its geek on."  In March, the company began offering Web access through an optional in-dash PC on some of its trucks, including the F-150.  (The only downside: The PC costs about $1,200.)

Meanwhile, Chrysler and Mercedes are pushing wireless apps that offer real-time information on bridge closing and local fuel prices.  Even insurance companies are getting involved, viewing wireless as a way to improve safety and reduce claims. American Family Insurance offers a free wireless monitoring service to families with teen drivers. It aims to reduce risky driving by alerting users to potentially unsafe maneuvering, including hard braking and swerving.