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Chevrolet's GogoLink is a new smartphone app-based nav system that GM says will provide full-featured navigation with traffic updates at less than the cost of traditional navigation.

The traditional – and expensive – in-car navigation system is about to move one step closer to extinction.

Chevrolet will introduce GogoLink, a navigation system that connects with the owner’s smartphone and displays maps and directions on a car’s touchscreens. It will first appear in the 2013 Chevrolet Spark and Sonic — but could eventually migrate to other models in the Chevrolet and broader General Motors line-up.

The new system works through Chevrolet’s new MyLink infotainment system.  General Motors calls Gogolink an embedded smartphone app and claims it delivers “full-function navigation.” The automaker will formally reveal it next week at the New York Auto Show.

“GogoLink gives Spark and Sonic customers cloud-based navigation and live traffic alerts projected on the vehicle’s seven-inch, high-resolution touch screen for a great value,” said Cristi Landy, Chevrolet marketing director for small cars.

Chevy is offering the system first on the Spark and Sonic models because their buyers are more likely to own the required smartphones, according to Sara LeBlanc, the maker’s global infotainment chief. She estimates 90% will have an iPhone, Android-based phone or another smartphone capable of downloading the Gogo app needed to make the system work.

The price for the app itself is about $50, and that includes ongoing map updates. The big LCD display in the Sonic and Spark models will come standard on some trim levels and will be available as an optional upgrade on lower-level models.

While prices for traditional, factory installed navigation systems can vary widely, they can press north of $1,000 — and motorists then have to purchase map updates.  Portable navigation systems, such as those by TomTom or Garmin, have fallen sharply in price, some available for as little as $100.  The Gogo link is not only cheaper, stressed LeBlanc, but can continue to be used even after a motorist parks their car.

“You unplug it and walk and it keeps working” using the smartphone’s display screen, she pointed out during a demonstration of the technology.

Although GM has not released prices for GogoLink, it says it will be less expensive than traditional nav systems.

One of the keys to GogoLink is the system’s ability to store maps to the customer’s smartphone, which GM said will give users access to locations and turn-by-turn directions even when the phone signal quality is poor.  That is an advantage over other smartphone-based navi apps that have to constantly go out to the “cloud” for mapping data.

The GogoLink system will also provide:

  • Emergency information such as police, fire and the nearest hospital
  • Thousands of points of interest
  • Local Search via Google
  • Where am I? locator
  • Live traffic updates provide crash reports and lane closures as well as alternative routes
  • 3-D maps

MyLink will be standard on upper trim levels of both the Spark and Sonic and will be available on lower trim levels of the Sonic. MyLink will connect with owner’ phones by Bluetooth or USB and iPhone cables.

MyLink will also allow users to access:

  • Personal playlists of stored music
  • Hands-free calling with Bluetooth-enabled voice activation from the customer’s smartphone when the steering wheel button is depressed.
  • Ability to project video via USB while the vehicle is parked
  • Ability to project a photo album in “slideshow” mode via USB while the vehicle is parked, with the last music selection playing in the background. Once the vehicle is moving, a single photo is viewable.

The technology will debut at the launch of the Spark minicar over the summer and will be added to the subcompact Sonic at the same time.

Longer-term, LeBlanc said Chevrolet will “let owners tell us” whether they want similar navigation systems in other Chevy products, rather than the build-in devices currently offered.

Paul A. Eisenstein contributed to this report.


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