German automaker Volkswagen announced July 30 that it is working on a "hybrid radio," as it explores ways to keep in-car entertainment up to date and relevant.

The system blends traditional live radio with preset playlists that can be developed from home via the internet.

Drivers will then be able to choose what they want to listen to, creating a personalized playlist which can range from local news through to diverse choices of music, which will then be delivered into their vehicle.

"The Hybrid Radio is bound to be a success, as it fulfils the listener demands of tomorrow by combining the classic car radio with the internet," said Martin Weiser, head of Driver Information Systems at Volkswagen.

Testing of the system will begin next year in Lower Saxony, in collaboration with German radio station Hit-Radio Antenne Niedersachsen.

Although radio listening figures are on a global downward trend according to several studies, Volkswagen says that the car is one of the most important locations for listening to the radio.

In North America, where sophisticated HD radio and satellite radio are more widely available, automakers such as Ford are already experimenting with ways to integrate radio with consumers' personal music preferences.

Ford's US 2010 model year cars feature iTunes tagging, allowing drivers to push a button while on the move to "store" the track and artist name of the song playing on the radio, so that they can download it from home.

However, the technology has not been confirmed for outside of the US - iTunes tagging, which is also featured on the iPod Nano, is only currently available on one European radio station.

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