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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hertz Vehicles to Feature Voice Navigation System

NEW YORK -- Forget the map on vacation. Let the computer talk you there.

Hertz Corp. said last week it will install at least 7,500 Rockwell Automotive talking computers that will direct you to your destination in a rented car, in a bid to make the system widely available for only a few extra dollars a day.

The deal, worth an estimated $23 million, will make Rockwell's NeverLost navigators a common feature in Hertz rental cars in 16 cities, allowing customers to reserve them for just an extra $6 a day in mid-size to luxury cars.

Atlanta is the first city to benefit, with more than 500 units available for the Summer Olympics which are due to begin this week. Hertz will install the navigators for the first time in Boston, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Seattle.

Most of the navigators initially will be in cars at airports, where out-of-town customers are most likely to need directions. But this is a harbinger of things to come.

General Motors Corp. already offers the navigators, which come with a small color screen, as an option on two Oldsmobile models. Mercedes and BMW has them in Germany. And the navigators are common in Japan, where the screen has the ability to double as both a television and a Karaoke machine.

The computers have been around in the United States for more than a year but mainly in rental cars. And customers could only request them, without a guarantee, because supply was limited during tests by Hertz, Avis and National.

The navigators come with a four-inch color screen between the driver and front passenger seats that shows you where to go. A computer-generated voice tells you every turn to make to get to thousands of places within a certain geographic area, so you don't have to take your eyes off the road.

If you make a wrong turn, the computer will sound a beep and tell you how to get back on track by picking up signals from a satellite navigation system.

When installation is complete by October, Hertz will have more than 8,000 navigation units in its American fleet, including units purchased earlier from the Rockwell International Corp. subsidiary.

"This will give us roughly eight times as many navigation units as the next car rental company," Bailey said. Avis has about 1,000 units, he said.

Hertz, a Ford Motor Co. subsidiary, is the world's largest car rental company, with a fleet of more than 500,000 vehicles located at about 5,400 locations worldwide.