Google is known for its ambitious plans, and more often than not they succeed. Still, few might have actually believed when the project started out that there will be Android-powered cars by 2010. But it's happening, the first car to feature Android will hit the streets, literally, next month in China. The Roewe 350 is expected to debut at the Beijing Auto Show next month with the notable feature of being the first car to ship with a GPS navigation/DVD system powered by Google's operating system aimed mostly at mobiles but also at other embedded devices.
The Roewe 350 will ship with the very latest release, Android 2.1, putting it in some rather select company like the Google Nexus One and the Motorola Droid. Google Maps Navigation, the very powerful and free navigation software launched late last year, should be making an appearance coming with complete turn-by-turn directions, traffic reports, 3D maps and even Street View, which is now available in a handful of Chinese cities.
But that's not all, users will be able to surf the web and even chat online. The details on this latest feature aren't all that clear but, perhaps instant messaging while driving isn't the smartest thing to do. It's not clear if applications are available for the device, though there may be some that are well suited for a car. There is also no detail on the type of connectivity this thing will have, either using 3G or something else.
The Roewe 350 will sell for 70,000 to 130,000 yuan which is roughly $10,000 to $19,000, a decent price by western standards, but putting it well into the luxury sedan class in China. Roewe is a recent brand coming from the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), one of the biggest car manufacturers in China, and came about when the company bought the rights to the technology but not the trademarks of the now defunct MG Rover car manufacturer. This isn't the first time Google software makes its way into cars, the Audi A8 comes with Google Earth pre-installed.