The networked car is becoming a reality, according to a German university study.

But whether more infotainment and telematics options will provide incentives to younger consumers to buy a car remains to be seen.

The study, conducted by the Center of Automotive, a think tank that belongs to the FHDW business school in Bergisch Gladbach, shows that automakers significantly boosted electronic innovation in their cars in recent years.

The number of innovations in telematics, driver-assistance and infotainment systems rose 56 percent to 91 in 2009 from 58 in 2005. Most innovations were aimed at connecting the car with the outside world.

Though the Center of Automotive says a lot of work remains to be done in this area, the think tank notes that accident-free driving and driverless driving “no longer are distant utopias.

The study, titled “iCar ”“ The young generation and the networked car," wanted to find out whether the IT innovations now entering the car will make car purchasing a higher priority for the so-called “iPhone generation.”First results of that part of the study will be released in early 2011.

The auto industry is struggling with declining buyer interest among 18-to-25 year olds, as traffic congestion and rising costs make driving less attractive. Anecdotal evidence also suggests young people’s interests tend more toward social networking and activities other than driving.