How many cars that are sold or circulated and have an integrated GPS navigator, those that come “factory”? Very few. They are usually in the majority of cases an optional equipment that implies an important price, and at best comes standard on the higher finishing levels, which are also more expensive.
Even so, to be fair, we must not forget that car brands have come a long way in cheaping integrated GPS navigators, or giving many more functions besides GPS, and they no longer cost as much as ten or fifteen years ago. The question is whether, even with cost reduction, they are interesting or not. Let’s see what there is.
Good presence, everything in place and outdoor antenna
The main advantage of an integrated GPS navigator is that the dashboard of the car will have the same good presence that we want, or according to the case even better. In other words, we talk about the design factor, which in the end also sells. There will be no foreign element added, no support, no suction cup on the windshield, no cable attached to the cigarette lighter to charge the battery.
And of course there will be an external GPS antenna, to receive the best satellite signal, without problems by an athermic windscreen, or to be shielded the signal when circulating by city through narrow streets between tall buildings. And this is important, because the better the GPS signal the browser, the more accurate it will be.
In addition, it is assumed that everything will be in place, the screen and controls will be located having regard to criteria of visibility and ergonomics. I say it’s supposed to be because sometimes the GPS screen fits in a bad way, and it’s very low, having to look away from the road more than desirable, but this happens less and less, and if the car’s dashboard was designed from the beginning thinking about properly integrating the screen, there should not be this problem.
If the screen of the navigator is tactile it is normal to put it by hand, a distance close to the right hand the driver, combining this with a suitable height so as not to have to look away very much if you take a look. The screens are adding inches over the years, now it is not strange to have fairly large screens, around seven and eight inches (and in some special cases, even more).
Very commonly, especially if the screen is not tactile, usually includes a control knob, which sometimes has the form of joystick or wheel, combining a rotary drive, with a cursor drive of four or eight directions, and also With various control buttons (OK, Menu, Back, and the like). This control may even have a touch pad.
The control is usually located in the extension of the center console, near the gear lever. Once you get used to it is done with its handling and can be used without looking at it, just to the touch. It is for example the case of integrated GPS navigators of Renault, Citron DS, BMW, Audi or Mercedes-Benz, to cite some examples.
Show directions in the box or on a HUD
You can also include the handling of some basic GPS functions with the steering wheel controls, and even better, some include voice control.
Another advantage of integrated browsers is that they can display the information on other display devices of the car as well as on your screen. For example, some cars that equip a HUD system for projecting information on the windshield also show the basic GPS indications on the HUD in addition to the speed indication. For example, I had a chance to test the Citron DS5 HYbrid4, I was wearing it, and it was quite practical, really.
And others show these indications in the information screen of the computer on board of the instrument cluster, something that is still better if the box is completely digital, and directly what we have is a color screen as such, being able to show graphics and Detailed color images. For example, the Tesla Model S has a completely digital picture, or the new Audi TT, which even shows the map in perspective in the picture, not only indications.
These two possibilities are really useful, because the driver is constantly scanning the instrument panel to control the speed or the tachometer, and in the same way can take a look at the GPS indication.
Connected car: all-in-one solution
Today’s integrated GPS navigators are not usually just a GPS, they are often part of an all-in-one solution with the system of multimedia connectivity and infotainment of the car, as one more function within the several offered by the system, Music, Applications, Internet, Camera, etc.).
And this also brings its advantages. For example in an electric car can be visualized on the map the range of action that allows us the real autonomy of the car, depending on the load left by the battery, or allows us to quickly find a point of recharge, for example in the case Of the R-Link system that rides the Renault ZOE, but it is not the only one, we find it also in the BMW i3, among others. The same can be said when it comes to finding a gas station, in a conventional car.
In addition, as more and more cars are connected, either by a proprietary embedded SIM card, or by the shared data connection of the phone, that the system has an Internet connection allows to search the car itself, even with the control by Voice, and find a restaurant, or a car park, or a hotel (or anything) and that automatically the car’s GPS tell us how to get there.
There are very interesting options that combine for example GPS with a consultant to drive more efficiently, and you can even find a route to go to the destination, not by the fastest route, but by the way, that less consumption involves, depending on factors such as Speed, traffic density, or road slopes.
This function is often called eco-route, or something similar, depending on the brand. Electric cars like the Nissan LEAF 2013, or the Ford Focus Electric, already include this feature in the integrated GPS navigator they equip.
And this is not science fiction, already selling cars with GPS navigators as well. In fact, the next step is that in hybrid models (combination of combustion engine and electric motor) even the GPS communicates with the hybrid management system to anticipate the route, and to use the motor of combustion by motorway, and the motor Electric by city (where most compensates each) automatically, and without the driver having to do anything. This is so for example in plug-in hybrid cars such as the BMW i8, or the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer plug-in hybrid, which will soon arrive.
It is also very useful the indication of maximum speed in each section, or the information of fixed radars. This is also available on a portable GPS, right. The advantage with an integrated one is that this could be combined with the signal recognition camera and the cruise control, to adapt the programmed speed automatically.
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Another advantage of integrated GPS navigators is that the GPS module also serves for automatic calling systems to emergency services, known as eCall, when an accident is detected (when jumping some airbag from the car); along with the call the exact location is sent using the address and the GPS coordinates. Alternatively, it is also useful to locate the car if it has been stolen, for example (or so that when a parent leaves the car to their child, can have it located).
Something interesting that we will see more and more, thanks to the connection protocols between smartphones and multimedia systems of cars, such as MirrorLink or CarPlay, is that we can use the GPS navigator of the phone by displaying the map and the indications on the car screen, But without the car carrying GPS module. Honda for example has already shown it in the new Honda Jazz, but it is not the only one. Of course, in this way, some advantages are lost (like the last ones just mentioned).
OEM and “branded” solutions
Of course, many of you will know, but it is worth remembering. The GPS navigators of cars do not make their own car brands, although each one can put a different name, or there are certain nuances in terms of graphics, or interface design.
There are several OEM vendors of specialized components in this, for example Denso, Delphi or Bosch, to name a few. As with other components, in cars of different brands we can find in the background, without knowing it, the same GPS navigator, at least for hardware and software, except for shift personalization.
We can also find suppliers who are proud of their brand, who do not hide it as an OEM, but they show off it. This is the case for example of TomTom, which especially can be found in GPS navigation integrated in Renault, with the TomTom Carminat or more new system R-Link, but also Here at Volvo, or even Google Maps, Tesla Motors, by Give some examples.
Of the maps that browsers use, who makes them, and all that, we’ll talk about the last part of this special about GPS navigators.
There are also “half-integrated”
Some brands, in some models, and especially if the cars are some years old and were not specifically designed to integrate a GPS navigator screen, either by reducing costs to a minimum and offering a browser for little money, opt for options not so Integrated.
I mean for example to some models that directly use a computer with two DIN slots that is placed where the car radio would go. And I mean also accessory-type solutions that you try to integrate as you can.
For example in some models of Seat (Ibiza), Fiat (Point), or SsangYong (new Korando), to name a few, the GPS navigator is a portable navigator, TomTom type, Garmin, or similar, but has a support Specific for the dashboard, and comes with a specific power supply for the cable that recharges the battery, which is usually more or less hidden (and at least not through).
These “foreseeable” factory solutions are usually installed as an accessory in the dealer’s shop where the car is sold to us. Let’s face it, they are small, they are not as integrated as a “factory” browser, they do not offer as many functions, nor other advantages, but they can be an acceptable solution for price.
Prices for all tastes, but generally more expensive
We ended up going back to the beginning. In few cars are sold with integrated GPS navigator because in general it means to spend more money, and we do not usually be for work. This is your main inconvenience.
An integrated GPS navigator, “factory”, can cost on the order of about 1000 to 1800 dollars, depending on the brand (and eye, which for years could cost even more). It is true that for this price the screen can be very large, include control command, full integration with all car systems and speed alert functions, real-time traffic status information, etc. But still expensive.
Many brands also offer an integrated GPS navigator “factory” simpler, with a smaller screen, with less resolution, some function less, without control, all to reduce costs, for about 400 to 500 dollars. It is a more reasonable price, but cheap is not.
The most economical are undoubtedly the “half-integrated” mentioned above, which can cost about 200 to 350 dollars, approximately.
But of course, put to think of prices, whoever wants the most economical option, and here is the great competition of integrated GPS navigators factory in cars, will look at a portable GPS navigator, which will be a false “remove and put”, True, but it will cost you about 100 dollars, or even if you have a smartphone you will not spend a dollar more (well, maybe on a stand), and will use the free GPS browser included in your phone, Apple Maps, Google Maps, or Here Drive +, which do the same in a way quite similar to the car.