Google to power in-car systems for big carmakers

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi carmaking alliance said on Tuesday it will adopt Alphabet’s Google Android operating system in their cars, with the car rollouts starting from 2021.

The move is part of the Alliance’s strategy to improve connectivity and infotainment features to woo potential buyers, who are less attracted by traditional automotive features.

“Our ambition is to offer the same customer experience inside the car as on a mobile phone,” Hadi Zablit, the head of business development at the Alliance, told The Financial Times. “It is becoming an important feature when people choose their cars. It’s a competitive advantage.”

The partnership is also  big win for Google, as it cements its position in the car infotainment market. Together, the three-group Alliance sold 10.6 million vehicles in 2017, which amounts to one in nine passenger cars sold globally.

It is worth noting that this new partnership is a separate proposition from Android Auto, a mobile app developed by Google to mirror features from an Android device to a car’s compatible in-dash information and entertainment head unit or to a dashcam.

With this new initiative, Android is built directly into the car’s infotainment system, which should ensure a smoother and more integrated experience. This means that Google Maps, the company‘s virtual voice-activated Google Assistant, and the Google Play Store will all be accessible through the car. This will include turn-by-turn navigation and voice-controllable access to calls, messages, and music, among other features.

Google first revealed plans to build an Android-based infotainment system directly into cars last year, with Volvo and Audi among its inaugural partners.

While Volvo and Audi last year committed to having Android vehicles on the road within a couple of years — meaning sometime in 2019 — Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi have slated 2021 as their target for the first Android vehicles to roll off the assembly line.