Guest Column: Why did Volvo decide to team up with Google?

Back in 2017, Volvo Cars announced a partnership with Google to develop next-generation Android-based infotainment and connectivity solutions. Since 2019, all new or updated models introduced by the Swedish firm are equipped with the latest Android-powered system, complete with built-in Google apps and services.

So, why did Volvo choose to go the Google route and become the first car manufacturer to team up with the multinational technology company on integrating an infotainment system powered by Android? 

Well, the move allows the firm to keep up with the rapidly changing consumer needs in the realm of technology that in turn shapes the landscape for in-car technology. The consumer electronics space evolves much more quickly than automotive-based systems.

Navigation is a primary driver of this. Ten years ago, in-car satellite navigation was used to navigate to a single address, whereas it has evolved into an everyday necessity as we now want to know live routes, real-time traffic updates, shop opening times — and the realistic time it could take to get there before closing time.

Integrating voice into navigation is also developing rapidly and, as consumers, we are accustomed to having the latest updated mapping on our phones without needing to update, and the same is becoming the norm in-car.

Of course, the Android-powered system also allows drivers to use voice to control various vehicle functions, from heating, entertainment and connectivity to navigation. I have worked in the information technology industry since 1990, and Google’s voice control system is intuitive and familiar, with proven responsiveness.

Using the Google system — first seen on the XC40 Recharge and now being rolled out to the rest of our model line-up — we are seamlessly giving customers the same experience they have on their phone as in their car. The Apple CarPlay is expected to be introduced as a software-over-the-air (OTA) update later in 2022.

Plus, Volvo, which is based in  Gothenburg, is continually deepening its collaboration with Google with a view to delivering OTA updates with new features that provide more functionality and convenience. In fact, Volvo Cars will soon become the first car manufacturer to directly integrate its vehicles with Google Assistant-enabled devices,

which will allow for the most seamless connection between Google Assistant and cars to date, letting customers control functions in their car by issuing voice commands to Google Assistant-enabled home and mobile devices.

This means that by pairing their Volvo with their Google account, customers can talk directly to Google in their car and remotely control a variety of functions, such as warming up the cabin before heading off on a journey on a cold day. 

Volvo is expecting plenty of fresh automotive-specific apps to become available in the coming months and years.

Apps provide an additional layer of customisation for customers and, with a growing volume of car models now equipped with the capability to incorporate apps, we’ll see more and more third-party developers taking the decision to configure their products specifically for automotive use — especially for the fast-growing categories of navigation, parking charging

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David Holeck
David Holecek is the director of digital experience at Volvo Cars

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