Europe's two leading suppliers of information technology and navigation systems showed their latest equipment at the Geneva auto show.
Robert Bosch's radio and navigation system subsidiary Blaupunkt displayed its new TravelPilot RNS150 unit that combines navigation capabilities with a high-quality car entertainment system.
Bosch believes the European navigation systems market will grow from about 350,000 units in 1999 to 1.1 million units by 2001.
The market take-off is being led by new systems that are easier to install and offer greater functionality, says Bosch.
A new report issued by Navigation Technologies, creators of the maps used in nine out of 10 navigation systems sold in Europe, shows that the vehicle navigation market more than doubled in 1999. It is projecting an equally sharp rise in 2000.
'The trend we're seeing is that the market is doubling every 15 months,' said Andrew Little, director of marketing for Navigation Technologies Europe.
Navigation Technologies projects that 30 percent of all new car sales will include navigation systems by 2005.
BMW was the first manufacturer to offer factory-fitted navigation in 1994.
Bosch says the TravelPilot RNS150 is designed to work with the standard DIN power supply system in most European vehicles. Although the system's components have been miniaturized, Bosch claims it has the sound quality of a high-end compact disc player.
The TravelPilot RNS150 can play ordinary audio compact discs when not using a CD-ROM for navigation.
Bosch and rival Mannesmann VDO account for about 90 percent of the European market for navigation systems, according to analysts Standard & Poor's DRI.
Mannesmann VDO showed a new cockpit study called NET-Vision at Geneva. NET-Vision allows a car to have its own Internet address and includes a number of 'machine-to-machine' e-business functions.
For example, if a fault in the car is detected, the system can automatically search for the nearest specialist workshop.
Several vehicle functions can be controlled from a personal computer at home, says VDO. The car's auxiliary heating can be switched on, and music can be downloaded into the vehicle. The car can also be monitored through a web-camera.
The cockpit study has a large projection area for Internet, entertainment, communication and navigation functions.
The study includes a navigation system with voice control for destination input. Voice control can also be used to perform telephone functions.
Mannesmann VDO - together with its sister automotive company, Mannesmann Sachs, and Mannesmann's three other engineering business areas -- will be floated on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange as an independent group in June.
Parent company Mannesmann AG was bought by Vodaphone AirTouch plc in February for its telecom interests.