Carmakers prepare to go to war over dashboards

Bloomberg reports Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, will explore working with Ford on integrating smartphone applications into cars, the two companies said in e-mailed statements.

Ford said its SmartDeviceLink technology allows companies like Pandora to develop apps only once for use in multiple infotainment systems, while also allowing carmakers to control the design of dashboards.

This collaboration clearly illustrates car manufacturers’ concerns that Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto could dictate the future of in-car entertainment and navigation systems. Dashboards have become a battleground for carmakers as they seek to attract younger customers who demand connectivity features in their rides.

“They’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears and a lot of R&D resources into developing their own systems, so how can you then say ‘OK, Google and Apple, come in and take over’?” said Mark Boyadjis, an analyst for IHS Automotive. “The car companies need to be very shrewd with how they integrate things like CarPlay and Android Auto.”

According to IHS forecasts, carmakers may sell about 31M vehicles with CarPlay and 37M with Android Auto by 2020. At those growth rates, these systems would be available in vehicles about as quickly as Bluetooth and auxiliary-cord inputs have over the last 10 years, Boyadjis said.

While Apple lists Toyota and Ford as partners that will offer models with CarPlay on its website, Toyota is absent from Google’s line-up for Android Auto.

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