Emphasizing that it is intent on expanding further into the fast-growing telematics and in-car entertainment areas, Visteon Corp. announced Monday at Convergence 2000 a new agreement that it says will enable it to bring Bluetooth wireless technology into the vehicle - plus a new line of OEM and aftermarket multimedia products.

Bluetooth is a wireless communication technology that is becoming an industry standard for data transfer and information sharing among a wide array of personal electronics. Visteon announced it is collaborating with Lucent Technologies Microelectronics Group to use Bluetooth technology to provide wireless, hands-free interaction with products such as beepers, cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs). In the near future, Bluetooth technology is expected to allow information to be shared with those devices even if they are located outside the vehicle, such as at home or in the office. For example, data from a home computer could be transmitted to a car parked in the garage, sharing information such as maps, calendars and phone books.

Visteon is a long-standing member of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), a group of more than 2000 companies organized by Lucent, Ericsson, Nokia, IBM, 3 Com, Intel, Microsoft, Toshiba and Motorola. Lucent Technologies Automotive Products Group describes its mission as bringing together proven DSP products and Bell Laboratories acoustic and voice processing expertise to provide digital audio radio and hands-free technology for the automotive and telematics market.

Jim Wynalek, vice president and general manager of Visteon's Telematics/Multimedia business system, acknowledges that the growing use of in-vehicle telematics systems raises some safety issues related to driver distraction. However, he says Visteon is doing everything possible to eliminate safety issues before they arise. In addition to making systems voice activated, he also says navigation systems already are equipped with "lock-out" devices that make it impossible to program them once a vehicle is in motion.

On the entertainment side, Visteon touted the launch of a new family of multimedia products it has labeled "MACH."

"The MACH family of products provides consumers with an integrated, high-quality in-vehicle entertainment experience," says Jim Wynalek, vice president and general manager of Visteon's Telematics/Multimedia business system.

The MACH products include a high-performance, high SPL (sound pressure level) audio system designed to provide very loud, clean sound, and provide customized listening experiences; an MP3 player that can recognize compressed audio and traditional CD formats, giving drivers the ability to store and enjoy 10 hours of music on one CD; a rear seat entertainment system and "Rumble seats" for movie theaters that feel as if sound track speakers have been embedded in the cushions.

A spokesman says the company already has aftermarket orders booked for the MP3 system for early next year.

Visteon's new President and COO Michael F. Johnston says he still intends to have 20% of company revenues coming from outside Ford by 2002, although it's not an easy target because Ford business continues to rise as well, he says. About 1/3 of all new business Visteon is booking is coming from outside Ford, he says.

Mr. Johnston, formerly president of E-Business for Johnson Controls Inc., recently joined Visteon and so far has spent most of his time visiting operations overseas. However, he was scheduled to meet with Visteon UAW representatives later in October. He says he's "looking forward to it."