Mercedes-Benz announced yesterday that, beginning September 5th, it would make “Search & Send” technology available on its United States models. The technology requires the car to be equipped with TeleAid, the Mercedes-Benz copy of OnStar, and will be phased in model by model.
The system was jointly developed by DaimlerChrysler, Google, and Yahoo. It allows drivers to send directions directly from their computer to their Mercedes-Benz vehicle. To use it, the directions are first located on the home computer. Then clicking a “send to car” icon downloads the information to the car’s global positioning system. From there, the driver can download the directions to the vehicle’s navigation system, where it can either be immediately used or saved for later.
Mercedes’ manager of telemetrics, Sascha Simon, said that "[g]iven the increasing amount of time people spend in their vehicles, we’re always looking for ways to make that time more productive, efficient and enjoyable. The advantage to Search & Send is that customers can surf the Internet from their home computers — or from any Internet-connected device such as a PDA or cell phone — pick out where they want to go, utilize Google or Yahoo! Maps to get the directions and then send the information to their vehicle. Then they get in the car and go, without having to input addresses into the GPS system. They can also have friends or family pull down a destination and send the information to them in the car. We think this will be an extremely well- received progression in our telematics service. It’s this type of convenience that customers are looking for, delivered in an intelligent and simple way."
The system initially will be available on the new 2008 C Class, as well as S Class models. Mercedes-Benz did not announce the price of the option.
The efforts by automakers to add navigation and communications systems to their cars have met with stiff competition from outside sources selling stand-alone units which have proven more popular with consumers than built-in systems and are generally much less expensive, as well. Automakers seem, however, to be devoted to trying to sell systems which are built into the car, perhaps because these options have high profit margins for the manufacturers. Whether “Search and Send” will prove popular is anyone’s guess and price will undoubtedly have a bearing on that question. But, it’s an add-on to an add-on, and seems to be a marginally useful one, at that. Because the vehicle must be equipped with Mercedes TeleAid, the Mercedes driver will already have access to turn-by-turn directions directly from TeleAid. As the vehicle must have in-built navigation, as well, “Search & Send” ultimately seems like a redundant system.

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