The Drive for Hard Drives

"There is no question in my mind that automotive is going to hard drives.

"There is no question in my mind that automotive is going to hard drives. All indications are that they are coming into cars like gangbusters," says Dr. Robert Schumacher, business line executive for wireless, Delphi Corp.(www.delphi.com; Troy, MI). In fact, Delphi has developed prototype hard drive head units for three automakers, and Schumacher says conditions are now ripe for a rapid ramp-up: "OEMs now see a clear road map for hard drive installation and we have already started getting RFQs. We will have a hard drive product in the market fairly quickly." Another sign that big changes are afoot: development of six-CD changers has slowed as manufacturers anticipate their obsolescence. But rather that being wowed by this upcoming technological sea change, the more appropriate response might be, "What took you so long?" After all, the Japanese market has already largely made the switch to hard drives for its navigation units and that has taken several years, so the technology is hardly new. But Schumacher points out that while Japanese development has been driven by much-needed navigation capabilities, in the U.S. entertainment is the higher priority, and in-vehicle entertainment consumers are just becoming sophisticated enough to want the functionality that hard drives can offer.—KEW