Meet the iBeetle, from Volkswagen and Apple. It isn’t the iCar, but it’s fairly close.
Volkswagen claims that its latest Beetle, which is currently on display at the Shanghai Motor Show, is the first car to include a fully-integrated iPhone. Available as a coupe or as a convertible, the iBeetle was developed in partnership with Apple and as such draws on the US technology firm’s design ethos as much as its smartphone know-how.
As such, it can be ordered in shades of black, white or silver, boasts specially conceived “disc” alloy wheels and features an aluminium effect dashboard, where the iPhone will take pride of place in a specially designed docking cradle that holds the handset in landscape mode.
Once connected, the iPhone’s and the Beetle’s interfaces become one thanks to a specially developed Beetle app and the user can make calls, send emails and text messages and access navigation as well as supplement the stereo system via the iTunes music library.
The Beetle app puts Spotify front and center, allowing users not only to stream tracks but also to share recommendations with friends (hands-free, of course). But the app also offers a number of unique features such as ‘Expert,’ which turns the iPhone into part of the instrument panel, displaying g-force generated in corners, oil and coolant temperature, a stopwatch and a compass. In ‘Trainer’ mode, a driver can compare route history to see average journey times and fuel economy. It also connects with Facebook and Twitter to crowdsource advice and to share tips and tricks.
Using the ‘Postcard’ setting within the Beetle app allows the driver to send his or her current location to friends on social media networks as a digital postcard complete with a map and a photo snapped by the iPhone of the view from the driver’s seat.
VW is by no means the first carmaker to integrate iPhone features into its vehicles: that honor goes to Mercedes. Its A-Class has featured Siri Eyes-Free (a dashboard mounted button that enables the driver to access iPhone features via voice command without having to touch the phone) since September, but it is, so far, the first company to make the device an integral part of the car’s interior.
The iBeetle and iBeetle convertible go on sale in Spring 2014 but Volkswagen will start taking orders in October, when it is also expected to reveal pricing.
VOLKWAGEN DEBUTS THE iBEETLE AT THE SHANGHAI AUTO SHOW
The iBeetle is first Volkswagen with newly developed docking station and a special iPhone® application
Wolfsburg/Shanghai – Two iconic products will form an alliance later this year: the iPhone from Apple, and the Beetle from Volkswagen. The iPhone will interface with the Beetle and Beetle Convertible via a specially developed app and a docking station. The iBeetle is the first model line from the Volkswagen Group in which the iPhone will become an integrated component.
Volkswagen offers two different ways to acquire the innovative interface between iPhone and Beetle: as an app or as a standard feature of the new iBeetle and iBeetle Convertible. Both special models will be launched at the beginning of 2014. The app, docking station and iBeetle will make their world debut at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show (20th to 29th of April).
The newly designed docking station is located centrally on the dashboard of the Beetle: the iPhone simply snaps in to integrate it with the car. Essentially, all iPhone functions can be used in the Beetle; the iPhone can be used to navigate, make calls hands-free, listen to music, and much more.
The Beetle app
When this special app is launched on an iPhone, it can either connect the phone to the Beetle via the docking station or wirelessly. Each option allows for different app functions to be accessed:
Spotify: lets users stream media such as new songs, customized playlists or online radio stations into the Beetle. Those who wish can post their favorite music directly to friends. In addition, users in the Beetle can switch between “Spotify” and “iTunes” at any time.
Expert: offers five functions which make the iPhone an extended on-board instrument of the Beetle, such as a G-Meter (for measuring lateral acceleration), oil and coolant temperature gauges for the engine, a chronometer, and a compass.
Trainer: can be used to compare driving times, distances, and fuel economy values for different routes between any two destinations. Here, too, tips can be posted via social networks like Twitter and Facebook-such as which route is faster to the office.
Reader: lists the latest messages from social networks like Facebook, and reads iPhone messages aloud.
Postcard: Sends the current location of the Beetle to friends as a digital postcard with a map motif.
Photo: Sends photos taken inside the car to numerous social networks. Simply activate it, and the app does the rest.
Milestones: Available when the smartphone is undocked. Rewards its users with virtual “milestone stickers” for the Beetle when certain tasks have been completed.
The iBeetle is one of the first cars in the world to have a genuine integrative interface for the iPhone that was coordinated with Apple. As mentioned, the special model will be available as a Coupe and Convertible. The colors and equipment features of the iBeetle are stylistically linked to the Cupertino-based US company, bringing its iconic smartphones into harmony with what is certainly one of the world’s most iconic automotive designs.
The iBeetle, which will be available in early 2014, will come with other customized features in addition to the standard iPhone interface. On the exterior, they include standard features such as 18-inch “Disc” alloy wheels (painted in “Galvano Grey” with chrome wheel covers), door mirror housings and side trim panels (above the sill) in “Galvano Grey”, black door sill plates with the “iBeetle” signature, “iBeetle” chrome badges (on the front fender) and a “Chrome pack” (includes chrome trim strips on the sides). In a nod to the iPhone’s color scheme, the new iBeetle can be ordered in “Candy White”, “Oryx White Mother of Pearl Effect”, “Black Monochrome”, “Deep Black Pearl Effect”, “Platinum Grey”, or “Reflex Silver”.
Inside, steering wheel accents and the dash pad are executed in “Galvano Grey”. The iBeetle is also upgraded by a customized shift lever grip, black sport seats in “Vienna” leather, and contrasting seams in light “Ceramique”.