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Volvo CEO says Apple CarPlay provides value to customers and its cars should be focused on creating an overall experience driving experience has improved, not due to revenue generated from infotainment clusters.
Some car manufacturers are depriving customers of choice. Companies like GM and Tesla want users to have an integrated infotainment experience, treating cars almost like smartphones.
In an interview with The Verge's Decoder podcast, Volvo CEO Jim Rowan spoke about the industry's shift to microtransactions and monetization. He detailed how Volvo sees itself as tailoring different services to improve the driving experience, rather than denying customers choice.
Nilay Patel and Jim Rowan discuss the auto industry, the transition to electric, charging networks and more. However, we will focus on the part about CarPlay and infotainment systems.
“You can either say, “I'm going to provide a car whose interface is nice and simple for you,” or you can have a different operating system in your car than your phone, and the Phone is in people's hands much more often than they are sitting in the car,” Rowan said of Volvo’s provision of CarPlay and Android Auto access. “The big difference is that you have to be able to offer benefits through the Android application layer external to the car.”
During the interview there was some confusion about Android in the car and Volvo OS. Simply put, customers can use Volvo's basic infotainment system running Android, Android Auto or CarPlay — similar to many modern infotainment systems.
This setting will not change in the future. Instead, Volvo is going to focus on something called Volvo OS. A whole-vehicle operating system customized to give customers more power and control through integrated services.
“As long as you're sitting in the car, it's normal that you're using Android Auto. You listen to music or do something else, great,” Rowan continues, explaining Volvo OS. “But what you really want is for the application layer to work with the smartphone when you're not in the car, when I'm sharing my digital key with my friend because he wants to pick up my car from the stadium that I left there. last night, or when I share my digital key with my children, or when I offer insurance services to a client.”
The car can provide services to users as new and future Volvo cars are equipped with more cameras and sensors. Providing insurance discounts for safe driving is one thing, but providing tire replacement services for places that need winter tires is another.
“For example, in Sweden you have to change your tires in the winter,” explains Rowan, detailing the Volvo OS concept. “I want a signal to be sent to me that says, 'Hey, listen, tire rotation season is coming up… Do you want us to come to your job, take your old tires off, put your winter tires on?' tires, and pick up these summer tires and store them until next season?'”
Such a service is coming out beyond just showing ads to drivers on the center console. This adds value to the car and makes Volvo owners feel more connected to the car.
Nilai Patel notes that this direction is different from other car manufacturers. Many want to monetize center console, especially as full self-driving becomes more commonplace. Companies like Netflix may show ads before shows in these theaters.
At least for now, Volvo's CEO doesn't see it way forward.” “I don't think that's a viable strategy,” Rowan concludes. “I think we'll stick to what we're really good at, which is making really good, safe cars with fantastic connectivity options for customers that will allow them to reap the benefits when we get to full AD, whatever that may be. they want to manage the time they have won.”
The full interview provides more details about Volvo's future plans and technology deployment. We can only hope that companies like Volvo can influence the car market, and not the other way around.