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Never Get Lost Again

Staying on track gets a whole lot easier as GPS makes its way into the latest vehicles.
January 1, 2006
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/81646

Accurate driving directions are essential to ensure you and your employees don't waste time or gas money finding destinations. To the rescue: GPS navigation. From 28 satellites, the GPS sends signals to receiver software to pinpoint latitude, longitude and altitude. Vehicle navigation devices access the shortest routes, provide directions, receive voice prompts and even track down company cars from your office. The pricier models are preloaded with maps. Other models' expandable memory allows access to map detail with an SD card from a PC and map CDs. Some require a monthly subscription fee. Practical for delivery, shuttle and on-site service businesses, many portable GPS units can be permanently installed.

Some things to consider before buying: Is the system user-friendly? Does it provide turn-by-turn directions by street name or tell you the most and least used highways on your route? How long is its battery life? Is it rechargeable?

Magellansells several portable devices, including the RoadMate 760 with audio and traffic detour suggestions. Priced at $1,099, its swivel head and mount attach to the windshield. It plugs in to the cigarette lighter or can be hard-wired. Built-in maps are on the 760's hard drive, and it has a color touchscreen. The budget-conscious $699 RoadMate 300 can sort 20 destinations for the shortest distance between addresses and is useful for computing mileage, travel time and trips. Megellan also provides the Hertz NeverLost system, a product similar to the RoadMate 700. Check out other GPS products from Garmin, NavMate, and TomTomGO. If you need to monitor or locate fleet vehicles, take a look at the GPS Tracker from www.spytechs.com.

OnStarincludes a GPS navigation system plus other services for $35 per month. GM currently offers OnStar as standard or as a $695 option in more than 50 vehicles, and a free 1-year subscription is included on all 2006 Cadillacs. OnStar will be a standard feature in every 2007 GM model. High-end car companies making OnStar or other navigation systems available include Acura, BMW, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz.

Editor and consultant Jill Amadio has been reporting on the automotive industry for 27 years.