Microsoft teams with Siemens VDO Automotive

Microsoft Corp. said Friday it will work with Germany’s Siemens VDO Automotive AG on a line of communication, information, entertainment and navigation products for vehicles.

The deal extends Microsoft’s quiet push into the automotive space. The new products, which the companies said include high-end multimedia units and ways to better use portable devices like digital music players in cars, will be built on the Microsoft Auto platform.

Siemens VDO Automotive, which was spun off from German engineering company Siemens AG this year, makes a wide range of products for cars, from navigation devices and stereo systems to night-vision and blind-spot detection tools.

Financial details of the Microsoft deal were not disclosed.

Siemens VDO and Microsoft said they will deliver their products to the market faster than the typical automotive industry’s product development cycle. The first product, a multimedia platform built by Siemens that lets drivers use portable entertainment devices in the car, is expected to go into production as early as 2009.

Microsoft is also working with Ford Motor Co. on the Sync system, a $395 package that lets drivers use voice commands or steering wheel buttons to control their digital music players and cell phones. Sync is expected to be available on 11 Ford models by the end of the year.