iBenz - Driving just got betterBy Cliff Pavlovic and Barry Moynihan

Cupertino, March 29th, 2005

Apple today announced the iBenz, a car co-developed with the Mercedes Car Group of DaimlerChrysler. The slogan of this new product: Driving just got better. April Macintosh, iBenz project leader and head of Apple’s new Automotive Products Group, stated at a press conference for a select group of car and computer journalists: “Ford, Honda, BMW and the rest of the car companies have been producing cars for decades, but they just never got their pulse on the whole driving experience. Here at Apple we have, and now driving just got better.”

The entry model, priced at US$100,000, will have an integrated 30 GB iPod photo, Mac Mini with OS X 10.4 (“Tiger”), 20-inch Cinema display for passenger entertainment, Airport Extreme, Bluetooth driven steering wheel, and seating for 4 passengers. A US$125,000 version will include the features of the entry model as well as substantial upgrades: 30-inch Cinema display, 60 GB iPod Photo, dual processor G5 PowerMac and will seat 5 passengers. The iBenz is based on the S-class chassis of the Mercedes lineup, but details relating to car performance and safety were not released.

Both models will also include a GPS navigation system and the new iGuide software, specifically created for the iBenz. “The iGuide software,” stated Macintosh,” will provide total control on the road. Need to go somewhere? Just tell iGuide where to go and it will not only give you the direction, but even drive you there if requested. Want to be totally immersed in driving? Or totally removed? The new iBenz with iGuide does it all, and does it our way.” The iGuide software is also fully integrated with .Mac: It can link up with different accounts to save trip information and backup data, such as seat position and cruise control settings. No matter who is driving, even in a different iBenz, their settings will follow.

As for appearance, iPod Mirror Silver™ and iMac Serenity White™ will be the only two colors available at launch, but Apple will be introducing PowerMac Brushed Silver™ later this year. Furthermore, in keeping with Apple commitment to the academic sector, the iBenz will be available with educational discounts to those who qualify.

The only caveat, unless you want to void your warranty, is that iBenzes will only be serviceable at authorized Mercedes dealerships worldwide or Apple Stores with new CarCare facilities. Base warranty will cover 3 years bumper-to-bumper, but purchasing AppleCare support package will extend it to 5 years.

Mac founder and CEO Steve Jobs exclaimed at the conference: “Driving with the Apple iBenz is an experience with controlled speed, precision performance and the Apple experience”.

iBenz - Driving just got better (with car)A few journalists at the event noticed one thing relating to the advertising campaign of the new iBenz: In one of the ads, a car which seems to be a CLK Mercedes model is shown, not the S-class on which the iBenz is based on. Was this an error on the part of the marketing department? A sign that maybe other models existed? Jobs on this issue: “I can say that this is not an error. The CLK model used in the ad was part of concept cars we had worked on with Mercedes. The current model (S-class based iBenz) was ultimately chosen. Of course, the CLK concept car was too cool, so it was left in the ads. This is not false advertisement though, the concept car is being re-engineered and will be released in the future, once I give it my stamp of approval”. All the journalists were pleased with the response and thanked him for actually giving them a chance to bask even more in his presence.

The iBenz will be available in the beginning of next month at your nearest Mercedes dealership (for pickup) and online at Apple’s website (with free delivery).


Illustrations by Pierre Fiset and Cliff Pavlovic

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