updated 9/16/2005 5:00:53 PM ET 2005-09-16T21:00:53

Leave the CDs at home. With digital music players becoming more ubiquitous, Volkswagen AG is offering a stereo component that lets motorists plug in all manner of portable digital players — not just iPods — and manage their tunes and podcasts on a dashboard display.

Although the in-dash CD player has yet to go the way of the eight-track, digital devices with USB connections — be they fancy iPods or simple keychain drives — seem now to be portable music's future.

Volkswagen, Europe's biggest automaker, is thus making the USB connection an option on its Golf, Golf Plus and Touran models in December and on remaining models next year.

Just plug your device into a built-in console in the center armrest. The option comes in two varieties, one for the iPod, another for other USB-based players. Up to six of the player's folders will be displayed on the car stereo system, and the radio buttons can be used to scan, search or shuffle your mix.

The setup will cost $240.

Also at the International Auto Show this week, Mazda Motor Corp. unveiled its Sassou concept car. Instead of a key, motorists use a special USB drive to lock, unlock or start the car. The drive can also carry your favorite tunes.

Meanwhile, Japan's Denso Corp. has developed a security system that not only honks the horn incessantly when disturbed but also snaps a digital photo of the vehicle's interior and e-mails it to the owner.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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