Carmakers are working closely with electronic component suppliers to develop a new generation of low cost navigation and infotainment systems designed for both vehicle and personal use. Renault recently launched such a system in its facelifted Clio hatch called the Carminat TomTom GPS and soon after that Harman International confirmed plans to supply a similar system for use in up to eight new Mercedes Benz vehicles starting from mid-2010.

Now, Volkswagen has joined the fray by developing its own portable GPS navigation unit together with Garmin. Known as the 'Click & Ride' system, the new GPS unit works by being plugged into an integration kit - a special socket fixed to the dashboard and designed to take the unit – and is then controlled via a touchscreen interface just like any other third-party portable GPS.

The whole system can be switched from car to car fairly easily, and offers a number of advantages over just buying a third-party product. First of all, those annoying suction cups are dispensed with, and there aren't any messy wires dangling around as you drive.

Its features include automatic radio muting when the system is giving directions, optional Bluetooth connectivity, and even a Lane Assist function. Currently, the system is being rolled out for Europe, where it costs close to $100, but it should be making its way to the U.S. sometime in the near future.