Car industry giant Delphi has announced it will develop wireless Internet gear for cars in a partnership with Autonet Mobile. This isn't the first announcement of its kind, but Delphi is one of the Big 5 suppliers, so this is something of a turning point.
Delphi sells $23 billion worth of car electronics to the automakers each year, while Autonet is a San Francisco-based start-up that you may know for equipping some Avis rentals and Chrysler products with wireless hotspots. It brings early mover experience to the party, along with a bonding technology called TRU that promises to avoid drops as you whoosh past 3G cell sites. We've been promised an Autonet-equipped test car, so we'll let you know how well that works.
Selling routers isn't the end game here; service revenues are. The data plan and download revenues that cell phone companies enjoy look awfully good to every company involved here, but especially to battered carmakers who would love to generate recurring bucks from their relationship with customers--especially in a day when financing is barely getting written and often at zero percent when it is.