A new trend in luxury sedans and SUVs became apparent at the Geneva Motor Show 2012: iPads in cars. New models and concept cars from Audi, Bentley and Italdesign Giugiaro all featured some form of iPad dock in them at the show.
We know that our customers are quite interested in the best technology ... they're people interested in working on business from the car or in entertaining (for business), Marcus Abbott, head of production for the EXP 9F concept SUV for Bentley, said while explaining the decision to integrate iPads into Bentleys.
Audi plans eventually to have iPad docks in the back seats of its entire lineup, but for the time being iPad docks will be available in the Audi A6, A7, A8 and Q7 models in Europe, as well as in the U.S., pending regulatory approval. Bentley's new EXP 9F concept SUV featured iPad docks in the back seats, and the 2014 Bentley Mulsanne will be available with an iPad dock as well. The new Brivido two-seater prototype from Italdesign Giugiaro had an iPad dock on the passenger side.
The sudden emergence of iPads in cars has come as a response by manufacturers to new consumer preferences. Both Audi and Bentley identified businesspeople as being a primary target group for the feature. Audi also believes families with children will appreciate the feature.
The public seems just as interested in the technology as carmakers think it is.
I think it would be pretty cool for kids, the whole family. Kind of like the next step from DVDs, Adam Fein of Brooklyn said.
Yeah, sure - It'd be great for kids and stuff too, said Brandi Harry of New York.
I could definitely see a lot of business people wanting that. The main use of it is to get in contact with the office, Shawn Breen said, explaining why iPad integration into cars would be appealing.
No one interviewed opposed having iPads in cars, although there was occasionally some ambivalence or indifference toward the idea.
I would use it, but it would annoy me, Michael Stone of New York said.
I'm neutral; it wouldn't really matter to me, Tina Johnson of New York said.
Both Bentley and Audi would offer paid services which would turn their cars into mobile hotspots.
With the connectivity of WiFi throughout the car and the general increase in backseat entertainment, portability in integrating the tablets in the car is a big thing, a spokesperson for Audi said.
Bentley is focused on iPad integration over other tablet systems. We think the Apple platform is one of the best multimedia platforms available, Abbott said.
In the Bentley vehicles, the backs of the front seats have fold-down picnic tables, each of which has a keypad and an iPad dock. The Bentley system will use a dedicated SIM card for its wifi connection. Audi has partnered with T-Mobile for its WiFi system, a service which will cost between $25 and $30 a month.