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Aug. 6, 2012

Fiat Brands Could Soon Get Chrysler’s Uconnect

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Chrysler is looking to globalize its Uconnect telematics system applications to Fiat’s brands abroad, signaling further unity between the U.S. and Italian arms.

“Uconnect is a global technology brand,” Marios Zenios, head of connectivity and entertainment for Chrysler, tells WardsAuto after a panel discussion here at the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars.

“We’re working very closely with Fiat.”

Research is under way in Auburn Hills (MI), Turin and Shanghai, with engineers in the three locations in close communication about tailoring the system to drivers in Europe and China.

Uconnect has had several tweaks since its U.S. introduction. Recent Chrysler models have seen a greater fusion of car apps, such as satellite radio and voice-recognition software.

Zenios is confident that technology can be carried abroad. “China, they want everything, right? There isn’t anything on our menu that they don’t have.”

European drivers of Fiat-, Alfa Romeo-, Maserati- and Abarth-branded vehicles may see the technology sooner, but Zenios doesn’t provide a specific timeline. “There will be a deployment down the road,” he says.

Engineers are working to determine the needs of drivers by region before a full rollout.

“In the U.S., folks place a lot of value on peace of mind and the security of children (riding) in the car,” Zenios says. “In Europe, they want to know about traffic congestion or toll roads. With fuel prices the way they are, they’re very interested in having computers in their car that tell them how fuel is used.

“It’s a same set of experiences (for all drivers), but it’s prioritized a little different.”

One thing that will be guaranteed across markets is how Uconnect works. The system will retain its cloud-based operating system, regardless of who’s behind the wheel, Zenios says.

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