Research firm Gartner expects worldwide shipments of Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod to quadruple by 2010 to 164 million. As a result, many automakers are already collaborating with Apple, some even planning a reconfigured dashboard that will display information from the iPod, according to the Tampa Tribune. Since the explosion of the iPod, carmakers have sat idly by as drivers hook the device into dashboards and consoles with FM transmitters. George Peterson, an auto industry consultant with AutoPacific in Los Angeles said that vehicle manufacturers are finally beginning to catch on, finding new ways to connect iPods. BMW formed a relationship with Apple last summer. Now, most new models, as well as the Mini Cooper come equipped with adaption kits. Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Nissan, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari followed suit this year. But the iPod craze is just one piece of a much larger hi-tech pie. The once autonomous auto manufacturing and consumer electronics industries are beginning to feel each other’s influence. DVD players, televisions and, in some cases, wireless connections are being born into automobiles as a new kind of hybrid speeds down the road. Gartner even predicted that, rather than installing simple audio ports in the dash for such devices, automakers could begin adding a USB port up front so any number of electronic gadgets could be attached.