I heard the other day that when Satellite Navigation systems are a stand-alone option, they have only something like a 15 percent take rate. Even on the high-end cars where SatNav is optional, the well-heeled clientèle is baulking at spending several thousand dollars on factory-fitted guidance systems.
Surely part of this is due to the fact that you can go to Canadian Tire and buy a Garmin or a TomTom for a couple hundred bucks. OK, it isn't surgically grafted into your dashboard, but it does the job for a fraction of the cost.
Some cell phones now offer the same service too.
I admit - when these systems first came out, I thought they were frills. You could also beat them fairly easily - get them to take you down a one-way street or whatever. It used to be a game to see how quickly I could make the disembodied voice say, "If possible, please make a legal U-turn."
There have also been reports, possibly apocryphal, of SatNav systems directing people to drive right off docks into the ocean.
Listen - you still have to drive the car.
But I have become something of a fan, especially when driving into unfamiliar towns.
Or even semi-familiar ones, like Paris. How the heck did visitors ever get around that place with paper maps spread out all across their laps?
True, some of these systems are still less than intuitive to operate. But the human machine is infinitely adaptable, and you can eventually figure them out. Most will also calculate how long it will take to get to your destination, which is valuable even if you do know where you're going.
I haven't seen any systems over here that have real-time traffic information. But in Europe, I have been in cars where a row of little red car-like icons will appear on the map, indicating a slow-down up ahead. Of course, the system can also suggest an alternate route.
Now, that's cool.