November 29, 2018 18:22 CET
LOS ANGELES — Volvo Cars’ first model with Google’s Android operating system embedded into the car will be the Polestar 2 from the automaker’s stand-alone brand for electrified performance cars.
Volvo r&d boss Henrik Green revealed the information at the auto show here this week.
The Polestar 2, a rival to the Tesla Model 3, will go into production in 2020.
Volvo said in May that it would embed the voice-controlled Google Assistant, Google Play Store, Google Maps and other Google services into its next-generation Sensus infotainment system. Google has a similar deal with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.
Embedding Google’s technology into the car’s infotainment system is a shift for automakers as most currently limit access to just Android Auto, allowing the driver to view and use apps on the vehicle’s touchscreen after plugging in a smartphone.
“I am amazed that the reluctance [to let Google into the dashboard] was there because it seems so obvious now,” Green told Automotive News Europe.
In one of his first decisions as head of r&d, a job he took over from Peter Mertens in 2016, Green shutdown Volvo’s in-house upgrade to its Sensus system and welcomed Google into the car.
“Why would you ever pick that fight and invest the same amount of money. It would be an endless struggle to make it as good [as Google’s system],” Green said. “We want to give our consumers a fantastic experience where their cars are as seamlessly integrated as any other device. After coming to that conclusion, it was super easy to jump on board with the Android embedded program.”
Green said Volvo saves on development costs. It also has a partner to help maintain and fix any problems that arise once the system is launched, which Green said will be “a huge advantage in the overall quality.”
Volvo’s debut timetable was tight before the company made the switch to Google’s system, now Green says it’s even tighter. “We will struggle together all the way to the end with this timeline, but I am confident it was the right decision,” Green said.
Google’s embedded solution, which replaces a Windows-based infotainment system, will be available first on Volvo’s Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), which along with the Polestar 2 underpins the reigning European Car of the Year, the XC40 compact SUV.
Green said that while CMA-based sister brand Lynk & CO is not excluded from the system, it is currently using the open source Android platform rather than the embedded one.
Volvo also plans to make the upgraded infotainment system available in vehicles built on its Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), which is used on models such as the V90 station wagon, S60 sedan and XC60 SUV.
Google’s embedded system will also be built into models produced on Volvo’s second-generation SPA2 platform, which will debut in 2021 with launch of the third-generation XC90.
Volvo also confirmed it will emphasize that Google’s popular products are in its cars. “I think it is a good selling point,” Green said.
Google director of product management Mickey Kataria said: “People are used to having Google maps and Google assistant on their Android phone or on their iPhone or on their watch so we want to make sure that digital life continues when I get into the car.”
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