And, while wireless will continue to permeate car tech, it's not a silver bullet. There are still far too many parts of the U.S. that don't have sufficient cellular coverage for every network, and -- not surprisingly -- leaving a driver stranded in an area with insufficient or bad data is something car companies try to avoid. So onboard data storage will continue to be a necessity.
Chevrolet's MyLink navigation system, for example, allows drivers to connect their compatible smartphone via Bluetooth. Once connected, drivers can stream audio, and make and answer phone calls.
Most automakers now at least offer USB ports that allow drivers to connect their mobile device or a portable hard drive so they can access personal content.
Oil change and an upgrade?
Another possibility that would allow vehicle upgrades over time is by building informatics systems that can be replaced during a car's lifetime. After a few years, an owner would simply pull the module out and stick in a new one, Koslowski said.
By building systems to be modular and upgradable, car manufacturers could breath new life into used or leased vehicles, Koslowski said. "If you can upgrade a returned leased vehicle, guess what? They can charge more money for them...," she said.
Buczkowski, however, sees that as a difficult proposition, at best.
"After market products do not have to meet the same specs or warranties that a car does," he said. "Electronics often have a 90-day or at most a 12-month warranty, and that's only covering workmanship.
"We still find that the vast majority of [customers] are very intolerant of anything that goes wrong in their car," Buczkowski said.
Even the move to add Bluetooth connectivity to their cars earned Ford criticism from some customers.
"On phones, Bluetooth is not all that rock solid. That's an area we suffer from. And, we get knocked by our customers because they want a rock-solid experience in their cars," Buczkowski said.
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