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Old 08-14-2008, 01:00 PM
 
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The ongoing discussions about direction finding and survival skills reminds me of an off the wall question I have. Does anyone know why new cars sold in Alaska aren’t available with factory navigation systems? All the salesmen keep telling me it’s because “GPS’s don’t work in Alaska.”

Huh? My Garmin works just fine, all the way up to Prudhoe. What gives?
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Old 08-14-2008, 01:30 PM
 
Location: Madtown
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AK_Photographer View Post
The ongoing discussions about direction finding and survival skills reminds me of an off the wall question I have. Does anyone know why new cars sold in Alaska aren’t available with factory navigation systems? All the salesmen keep telling me it’s because “GPS’s don’t work in Alaska.”

Huh? My Garmin works just fine, all the way up to Prudhoe. What gives?

They're salesmen. You can't expect them to know anything. I am surprised though that it would be such a widespread phenomenon. Maybe it is just 'some' salesmen?
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Old 08-14-2008, 01:49 PM
 
Location: Wasilla, Alaska
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AK_Photographer View Post
The ongoing discussions about direction finding and survival skills reminds me of an off the wall question I have. Does anyone know why new cars sold in Alaska aren’t available with factory navigation systems? All the salesmen keep telling me it’s because “GPS’s don’t work in Alaska.”

Huh? My Garmin works just fine, all the way up to Prudhoe. What gives?
Well, those salesmen are partly correct. GPS' work fine in Alaska. They will accurately tell you your current longitude and latitude, with a small margin for error. The reason they aren't used in vehicles in Alaska is because the road maps they use are so inaccurate.

I also own a Garmin GPS, and it is great at telling me how fast I'm going, down to 0.1 mph accuracy, or where I have been. However, it also shows me driving through the middle of Knik Arm when the map is displayed. The road maps they use are either so old and out of date, or they are using a completely different horizontal datum, as to make navigation by vehicle using a GPS useless.
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Old 08-14-2008, 03:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Glitch View Post
Well, those salesmen are partly correct. GPS' work fine in Alaska. They will accurately tell you your current longitude and latitude, with a small margin for error. The reason they aren't used in vehicles in Alaska is because the road maps they use are so inaccurate.

I also own a Garmin GPS, and it is great at telling me how fast I'm going, down to 0.1 mph accuracy, or where I have been. However, it also shows me driving through the middle of Knik Arm when the map is displayed. The road maps they use are either so old and out of date, or they are using a completely different horizontal datum, as to make navigation by vehicle using a GPS useless.
Hmm...interesting...But the more I think about it, even this explanation wouldn't make any sense. Putting it plainly: I've never met a car salesman that would have any reservation about selling us something that didn't work?

There has to be something more going on here...

Last edited by Moose Whisperer; 08-14-2008 at 03:24 PM..
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Old 08-14-2008, 03:16 PM
 
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Originally Posted by gallon View Post
I am surprised though that it would be such a widespread phenomenon. Maybe it is just 'some' salesmen?
At least the ones in Anchorage we went to; Nissan/Infinity, Accura, BMW, VW, Subaru, and Volvo.
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Old 08-14-2008, 03:24 PM
 
Location: Wasilla, Alaska
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Originally Posted by AK_Photographer View Post
Hmm...interesting...But the more I think about it, even this explanation wouldn't make any sense. Putting it plainly: Since when would a car salesman ever have any reservation about selling us something that didn't work?

There has to be something more going on here...
Look at it another way. Who would you call and complain to if the GPS navigation system was so grossly inaccurate as to be unusable? Odds are you would probably call the place where you purchased the vehicle, and not the manufacturer of the GPS or the creator of those inaccurate maps.

Several years ago a lot of car dealers in Alaska would not sell 4x4s that electronically switched from 2-wheel drive to 4-wheel drive because in extreme cold it would regularly fail to engage, or freeze in 4-wheel drive and not allow you to unlock the hubs. So for years they only sold 4x4s with manually locking hubs.

I suppose it reaches a point where the salesmen just don't want to deal with the hassle any longer.
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Old 08-14-2008, 03:35 PM
 
Location: Madtown
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Glitch'es answer makes sense to me. The GPS maps work accurately, but the reference maps are off. Good answer.
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Old 08-14-2008, 03:48 PM
 
4,986 posts, read 9,760,082 times
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Originally Posted by Glitch View Post
Look at it another way. Who would you call and complain to if the GPS navigation system was so grossly inaccurate as to be unusable? Odds are you would probably call the place where you purchased the vehicle, and not the manufacturer of the GPS or the creator of those inaccurate maps.

Several years ago a lot of car dealers in Alaska would not sell 4x4s that electronically switched from 2-wheel drive to 4-wheel drive because in extreme cold it would regularly fail to engage, or freeze in 4-wheel drive and not allow you to unlock the hubs. So for years they only sold 4x4s with manually locking hubs.

I suppose it reaches a point where the salesmen just don't want to deal with the hassle any longer.
More of a tongue-in-cheek comment on my part.

But this was really starting to bug me so I just consulted the great oracle at Google. As suspected, apparently many (though not all) of the major data providers for automotive gps maps don’t cover Alaska (a company called Navtec being an exception). So it just comes down to which brand of gps a given manufacturer is using. For example, Audi uses Navtec so their factory navigation system does work up here.

Even so, this still seems kind of silly to me. After all, this is the 21st century and even Google has essentially all of Anchorage mapped out and photographed in their new “street-view” service. Even my handheld Garmin is able to mark my position dead on using the moving map anywhere in the state, though I guess it’s because I've got it loaded with the USGS topo, and aviation gps systems work fine up here too.
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Old 08-14-2008, 05:01 PM
 
Location: Wasilla, Alaska
17,824 posts, read 23,002,018 times
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Originally Posted by AK_Photographer View Post
More of a tongue-in-cheek comment on my part.

But this was really starting to bug me so I just consulted the great oracle at Google. As suspected, apparently many (though not all) of the major data providers for automotive gps maps don’t cover Alaska (a company called Navtec being an exception). So it just comes down to which brand of gps a given manufacturer is using. For example, Audi uses Navtec so their factory navigation system does work up here.

Even so, this still seems kind of silly to me. After all, this is the 21st century and even Google has essentially all of Anchorage mapped out and photographed in their new “street-view” service. Even my handheld Garmin is able to mark my position dead on using the moving map anywhere in the state, though I guess it’s because I've got it loaded with the USGS topo, and aviation gps systems work fine up here too.
Your Garmin was probably already set to NAD27, which is the datum used by the older USGS maps. If it was set to the latest datum standard, WGS84, then the roads on the USGS map would appear to be off by more than 100 meters in Anchorage, and even worse in Fairbanks.

While they do try to get the larger cities right, they still make lots of mistakes. Microsoft Streets, for example, shows "I" Street in Anchorage as "1st" Street. Which means Anchorage has two first streets, according to Microsoft, one heading east-west near Ship Creek, and the other heading north-south from downtown.

Once you get out of the cities like Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau, then their accuracy goes down even further.
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Old 08-15-2008, 05:55 PM
 
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I am kind of surprise a car dealer salestype in Alaska would make such a statement about GPS though, as mentioned by the other posting, maybe they are worried about having to service it. Many of your high end cars now offer GPS as standard equipment. Though, whether it is true now but, in the past, the dealer woud advise reprogramming the builtin gps with the latest mapping software every year or so. Naturally, there would be a nice stiff service charge along with that.
I've used portable GPSs in the last 4 years in Alaska and Canada with just a few glitches. As mentioned, Garmin, using the Navteq mapping software seem to do well in Alaska and Canada as well as in Europe. They are lousy in China. Worthy of note, I believe Tom Tom, a German GPS maker, have since bot Navteq so Garmin may need to go to another mapping Co.
Speaking of portable, most of us know to hide it or remove it from the car when parked outside. Thieves love them. If U do hide this item in the car, don't put it under the seat especially if the seat is a power 4 way. I am sending mine in for repair with a crushed screen.

Last edited by RAMFEB31; 08-15-2008 at 05:57 PM.. Reason: spellin'
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