Is New $50 Chevy Navigation System a Game-Changer?

Maker turns to the Cloud.

by on Aug.03, 2012

The 2013 Chevrolet Spark will offer a $50 navigation system called BringGo.

Sales of factory-installed navigation systems have long fallen short of expectations in the U.S., analysts say, because of the high cost of the technology – which in most vehicles still pushes north of $1,000 and can run almost double that in a few models.

Chevrolet hopes to see a paradigm shift in demand, however, with the upcoming launch of its new BringGo system.  The smartphone-based navigation package will cost buyers just $50.

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BringGo is actually a hybrid that relies on so-called “cloud”-based data rather than building everything into the vehicle itself.  The maker pairs a smartphone-based navi app with an in-car video display with the system which is debuting on the new Chevrolet Spark minicar.

BringGo is one of a number of navigation apps available on the Apple iPhone and other smartphones.  Among other providers is TomTom, one of the biggest manufacturers of aftermarket navigation devices.  Such portable systems have become the option of choice for millions of consumers resisting the high-cost of factory-installed navi.

Meanwhile, smartphone navigation is gaining significant traction.  But both portable and smartphone systems have limitations, including the fact that they don’t offer the bright, easy-to-read screens of a factory unit.

With BringGo, the app relies on cloud-based map data but the display is part of the car, a 7-inch color LCD touchscreen built into many Chevy Spark models.  The trick is that the Spark’s infotainment system can tap data from BringGo and display it on the 7-inch monitor, rather than forcing a motorist to squint at the phone’s much smaller display.

About 90% of the 2013 Chevy Spark models – the 1LT and 2LT versions of the car – will come with the monitor. The BringGo feature will become available by the fourth quarter of this year.

The app link was recently changed from GoGoLink to avoid confusion with a wireless Internet service offered by Delta and other airlines.

The ability to go to the cloud for navigation data is unique but linking a car’s infotainment system to a driver’s smartphone is becoming increasingly common.  Most makers will be offering infotainment systems in 2013 that can access entertainment apps such as the Pandora music service, iHeart Radio and other services.  Chevy plans to offer many of them as it expands the capabilities of the system in the Spark and other vehicles.

As has reported, demand for navigation systems has rapidly increased in recent years and a new study by Strategy Analytics estimates that because of new innovations – like BringGo – driving down costs, the number of factory-based navigation systems sold in the U.S. will quadruple by 2019.

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