Weekly Brief: Chevrolet announces broad CarPlay, Android Auto deployment for 2016

In this week’s Brief: Apple, Google, GM, Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Volvo, Ferrari, Hyundai, Audi, CES Asia 2015, Baidu, Mobile World Congress 2015, Shanghai OnStar, China Mobile, Cadillac, Apple Watch, Android Wear, Ford, BMW, ZipCar and Ford Smart Mobility.

 

 

Apple and Google can breathe a sigh of relief, as GM confirmed last week that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will come as standard across the majority of 2016 Chevrolet models.

 

The commitment makes GM the first major automaker to release Apple CarPlay and Android Auto across its mainstream cars. Others, like Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Volvo, all promised to deploy the smartphone pairing systems in 2014, then delayed. To date, only a couple of fancy Ferraris have shipped with CarPlay onboard.

 

For Apple, which is used to seeing its products fly off the shelves, its first foray into the automotive world has been sobering. GM said that it took so long rolling out CarPlay and Android Auto because it had to make sure that all the features passed GM’s distraction guidelines.

 

Chevy MyLink will still be the in-dash infotainment system that users find in their 2016 Chevies, but CarPlay and Android Auto will be built into the systems and will flash an icon when a compatible iPhone or Android smartphone are detected in the car.

 

First car to hit dealer floors is the 2016 Chevy Cruze out June 24. Thirteen others, including the Spark, Malibu and Camaro, will follow later this year.

 

Not to be outdone, Hyundai announced that it was making the 2015 Hyundai Sonata the first production vehicle on the planet with Android Auto, effective immediately. If you’ve got a 2015 Sonata with the optional navigation package, all you have to do is swing by a Hyundai dealership and wait 45 minutes until the update is complete. Alternatively, Hyundai says that an over-the-air update is coming later this summer.

 

In other news, the Consumer Electronics Show launched its inaugural event in Shanghai, and a number of automakers came along for the ride. Chief among them was Audi, who kept the pedal down on its big self-driving car push (recall this year’s CES Las Vegas, where Audi arrived in an autonomous A7 that had driven 500 miles without driver intervention). At CES Asia 2015, Audi debuted the Audi R8 e-tron, an all electric concept car decked out with enough laser scanners, ultrasonic and radar sensors and video cameras to make it fully autonomous as it cruises about the streets of Shanghai.

 

Mercedes-Benz revealed that it was deepening its ties with Baidu, China’s largest search engine, in an attempt to bring more services to Mercedes drivers in China. Mercedes has already integrated Baidu’s Street View into its vehicles, a first among automakers in China. In the future, it plans to integrate Baidu's CarLife, a smartphone-based in-car infotainment system developed specifically for the Chinese market.

 

Back at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona, Shanghai OnStar joined forces with China Mobile for the launch of 4G LTE telematics service across China. At CES Asia, Shanghai OnStar was on hand with Cadillac, the first model to debut the service this year. Benefits for local customers include in-vehicle Wi-Fi hot spots, new infotainment options like streaming video for back-seat passengers and faster application downloads.

 

OnStar and Cadillac also debuted an OnStar app for Apple Watch that allows Cadillac drivers in China to remote control their cars from their wrists. In addition to remote lock and unlock and real-time info about the vehicle, users can remotely start the engine, flash headlights, sound the horn and locate nearby parking spots.

 

In the U.S., Volvo said it was hopping on the Apple Watch train as well, as it’s set to release an updated version of its Volvo On Call app that makes it compatible with Apple Watch. The app allows Volvo drivers to remotely set cabin temperatures, lock/unlock their cars, check gas mileage and locate their cars. The app will also pair with Android Wear, Google’s smartwatch platform.

 

Finally, Ford revealed that it’s jumping on the car-sharing bandwagon in London with its new pay-as-you-go GoDrive platform. BMW took its DriveNow car-sharing platform live in London in 2014, and ZipCar has been active there for years. Ford seems to be trying to set itself apart with a guaranteed parking feature across 20 locations in the city. GoDrive will initially cap membership at 2,000 drivers who can book one of 50 Ford cars (25 Focus Electrics, 25 Fiestas) via smartphone app. The project is the first offshoot of Ford Smart Mobility, Ford’s plan to use technology and innovation to take the company to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data.

 

“As cities become more and more congested, people are becoming increasingly open to new means of mobility, and car sharing is proving to be an appealing model,” says Ken Washington, vice president, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. “A crucial part of delivering effective car-sharing services is to learn alongside these drivers what best meets their needs and expectations, and complements their location and existing transportation infrastructure.”

 

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.

 

Andrew Tolve is a regular TU contributor.

 

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