DaimlerChrysler (DCX) announced Aug. 8 that it has chosen AT&T Wireless (AWE) to be its development partner and wireless provider for the company's new comprehensive telematics strategy. In addition to beginning development of a portal with AT&T Wireless for its customers, DaimlerChrysler said that it expects to begin to pilot its telematics solutions in Chrysler Group vehicles before the end of 2001. AT&T Wireless will work closely with DaimlerChrysler as it embarks upon a company-wide strategy that will benefit the Chrysler Group, Mercedes-Benz USA and Freightliner customers, according to DCX. Mercedes-Benz is a pioneer in hands-free cellular telephone technology, having introduced it into select products more than 10 years ago. DaimlerChrysler's new telematics strategy, the offering of voice and data communication tools in the automobile, represents a consolidation of its wireless needs in North America. It also demonstrates flexibility in order to serve various automotive customer segments, including the luxury, volume production and heavy-duty vehicle segments, according to company officials. Each segment represents a different set of criteria for telematics, based upon the unique behavior and driving habits exhibited by customers who value the ability to have communication and computing capabilities in the vehicle. DaimlerChrysler and AT&T Wireless say they intend to develop solutions that reflect their shared commitment to driver safety. "We are pleased to be able to partner with AT&T Wireless, because we both share the same vision of what telematics should be," said Wolfgang Bernhard, chief operating officer of the Chrysler Group, a Deputy Board Member of DaimlerChrysler AG and the lead executive for e-business initiatives at the Chrysler Group. "We believe that the customer and the provider will mutually determine the future of telematics in the automobile. Customers will decide what services they want. Our role is to continue to focus on safe vehicle operation." Telematics has been available in Mercedes-Benz vehicles for several years. Tele Aid, a combination safety, security and communications system launched in April 1999, can notify police of an emergency, offer roadside assistance, track a stolen vehicle and provide concierge services, among many other features. Mercedes-Benz vehicles have also featured hands-free cellular telephones since 1991, with voice recognition systems available since 1994. These offerings will continue to be available to Mercedes-Benz customers. Through its relationship with AT&T Wireless, DaimlerChrysler will be able to tap into some of AT&T Wireless' resources, such as one of the largest and most sophisticated digital wireless networks in North America. Recently, AT&T Wireless launched the nation's first next-generation, or 2.5G, wireless network for businesses in Seattle, providing access to information at data speeds significantly faster than those currently available on other existing domestic wireless data networks. In addition, AT&T Wireless is commited to be among the first to deliver true third generation, or 3G, wireless technology in North America. "We are extremely proud of our bold, new relationship with DaimlerChrysler and the promise it holds for our mutual customers," said Don Boerema, senior vice president of AT&T Wireless. "On-board communications will become part of an exciting new age of mobile multimedia services. Working together, we will be able to offer customers simple and easy-to-use solutions that will evolve along with new advances in technology." The announcement reflects the on-going e-business strategy at DaimlerChrysler, as the company aligns itself with expert partners, rather than only attempting internal technology development. In the last year, the company has aligned with such partners as America Online, Cobalt Group, Covisint, IBM, Manugistics and Powerway. These partners are involved in various business-to-business (B-to-B), business-to-consumer (B-to-C) and business-to-employee (B-to-E) initiatives.