Welcome to Thursday Trivia where we offer up a historical automotive trivia question and you try and solve it before seeing the answer after the jump. It’s like a history test, with cars!
This week’s question: What is claimed as the world’s first production car with a factory-offered GPS navigation system?
If you think you know the answer, make the jump and see if you’re right.
The U.S. Global Positioning Satellite system (GPS) is an orbital location system presently comprised of 32 “birds” and offering location pin-pointing down to just a few feet. The U.S. initiated the GPS system strictly for military purposes in 1973. Over the years, technological advancements have led to greater accuracy, but it took the downing of a civilian aircraft that had strayed into Soviet air space due to navigational errors to lead Ronald Reagan to make the U.S. GPS system available for non-military use.
That availability didn’t extend to the Military’s level of accuracy, called Selective Availability however, as the civilian GPS was purposefully degraded as a National Security measure. This of course significantly limited the service’s use for things like automotive navigation. That changed in 1996 when Bill Clinton signed a policy directive in that would turn off Selective Availability in May 2000. Car makers couldn’t wait for that, and the first production car to offer a GPS-based navigation system actually arrived a decade earlier.
From Motor Trend:
More than just a luxurious car, the (1990) Cosmo made its mark as a technological tour de force. All cars featured a digital dash with a combination of analog and digital gauges with better resolution than much of what was available in its day. Top-spec models would have the word “Cosmo” appear from darkness and scroll across the wraparound dash, and they also featured Mazda’s touch-screen Car Control System (CCS), which the company claimed was the first GPS navigation system to be used in a production vehicle. Reviewers raved that it took just 9 seconds for the screen to change when commanded to zoom in. With the GPS antenna hidden in the roof, Mazda claimed it was accurate to within 50 yards.
Five years after Mazda debuted the GPS-equipped Cosmo, Oldsmobile introduced the first GPS-equipped car available to U.S. buyers. The GuideStar system, as offered as a $2,000 option on the 1995 Olds Eighty Eight, had a number of teething problems and gained a reputation for not being very accurate. Today, with GPS being in everything from our phones to our watches, having an in-dash system seems like a waste of money. Still, it’s one of the most popular options out there.