PARIS - PSA/Peugeot-Citroen plans a multi-access Internet portal for European car drivers.
The 50-50 joint venture with French communications group Vivendi, called Wappi!, will offer security, mobility and entertainment services.
Users will be able to reach the portal from a variety of terminals - including computers, mobile phones, dashboard screens and palmheld devices.
The companies said the new service has been designed to offer motorists information in several languages.
The Wappi! name is based on Wap, an acronym for 'wireless access protocol,' a communications protocol that allows mobile phones to connect to the Internet.
A website will be launched in May. The service will be available on the Peugeot 607 and Citroen Xsara Interactive in September. Later it will be extended to other PSA models.
Up to 1 million Peugeot and Citroen cars will be equipped with Wappi! by the end of 2002, said PSA Chairman Jean-Martin Folz.
Wappi! will be launched first in France, followed by the UK, Germany, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy. All of Europe, including central European countries, will be covered by late 2002.
The connecting equipment includes a global positioning system; a mobile phone; a display screen integrated in the instrument panel; a button for direct connection to Peugeot and Citroen call centers; and steering wheel controls. It will be sold as a package at an undisclosed price.
There are three main services:
Safety and breakdown services, including remote problem diagnosis.
Navigation services, including route displays in the car or on a mobile phone, and customized traffic information.
Entertainment, including online music, tourist information, a website and an e-mail address for the car.
Wappi! will be available for a monthly subscription of 5 to 7 Euros or on at a pay-per-call system at the rate of 1 Euro per call.
PSA and Vivendi have invested FF50 million (Euro 7.6 million) in the project so far. The total development cost is expected to exceed FF100 million.
Other partners in the project include Alcatel, the French telecommunications specialist. US information systems company Computer Sciences Corp. provides an integrated technical platform and has developed the website.
PSA and Vivendi plan to open their joint venture to other partners. 'Wappi! is not a closed shop,' said Folz. 'But Peugeot and Citroen customers will get it in advance.'