Apple has begun a major-scale offensive to get iPods into cars, teaming up with Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Nissan, and Scion in the USA, and Alfa Romeo and Ferrari in Europe.

These alliances aim to integrate iPods with car stereo systems from all these manufacturers this year.

The iPod Integration Kit for Mercedes-Benz will debut this April in the US with the newly redesigned 2006 Mercedes-Benz M-Class and for most other 2005 and 2006 models later this year. Volvo will offer two iPod connectivity options for their entire 2005 US model line. Nissan, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari will announce details of their iPod integration solutions later this year.

Each of these manufacturers will implement control systems in their vehicles to let users access and control their iPod using their car’s standard controls. BMW and Mini Cooper began providing integrated iPod solutions in the US last year.

Music on the autobahn (US only)

“Almost every car company in the world is working to integrate iPod into their cars in 2005,” said Phi Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing. “iPod customers want to take their entire music collection with them everywhere they go, including their car.”

Mercedes-Benz is the first automaker to provide full iPod music navigation for drivers to listen to their entire iPod music collection through the Mercedes-Benz audio system, selecting music using artist, album or playlist with the multifunction controls on the steering wheel and the integrated multifunction display on their instrument cluster. The kit costs $299.

Volvo’s two iPod connectivity options for its entire 2005 US model line allow iPod users to listen to their entire music collection through their Volvo audio system. The Volvo iPod Adapter will be available for S60, S80 and V70/XC70 models and will connect by simply plugging the iPod into a cable located in the car’s glove compartment, while S40, V50 and XC90 owners can use a dashboard mounted FM transmitter (not legal in the UK).

The Volvo iPod Adapter allows users to control their music through their Volvo sound system and steering wheel controls, and both options charge the iPod when plugged in.

Additional details on model availability, features and pricing will be provided by Nissan, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari when their solutions ship.

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