Thanks to some help from Google and Harmon.
If you ask us which automaker has the most intuitive infotainment system, we'll probably tell you it's Fiat Chrysler. FCA's Uconnect system typically lives on a nicely-sized 8.4-inch touchscreen that is well-organized and responsive. It's hard to imagine FCA making Uconnect even better but the automaker recently announced a partnership with Harman (Samsung) and Google Technologies to advance its infotainment technology. FCA has now become the third automaker, after Volvo and Nissan, to partner with Google on infotainment. Nissan's partnership will also spread to Infiniti, Mitsubishi, and Renault while Volvo's Google-powered system is set to debut on the Polestar 2 electric car.
FCA says its connected "ecosystem" will launch in the first half of 2019 and will be featured on all FCA vehicles by 2022. This is a very quick turnaround, though we aren't sure which FCA vehicles will be the first to receive the new ecosystem.
So you may be wondering what improvements Google and Harmon will be adding to Uconnect. The Harmon Ignite cloud-based platform will add the ability to predict maintenance needs, locate fuel and charging stations, receive traffic prompts and restaurant offers, and provide live customer-care assistance. It will also receive over-the-air updates via 4G network connectivity with the ability to upgrade to 5G. Harmon says the system will also be able to interact with future smart cities and household devices via Samsung's "Smart Things" platform.
Drivers will control this new system with a new Android-powered interface with wireless integration to mobile devices. FCA says the interface will include an app-based environment with fresh content via OTA updates, which will also allow for new capabilities in autonomous driving, electrification, and connected services. Some of these apps include remote battery management, smart trip navigator for EVs, and vehicle-to-grid services (meaning your car will talk to traffic lights and such). The system will also support FCA's Mobility Services such as pay-by-the-mile options and usage-based vehicle insurance as well as vehicle rental and car sharing.
"By selecting industry leaders such as Samsung and Google, we are making an efficient and responsible utilization of capital to provide advanced technological solutions to our customers worldwide," said Harald Wester, Chief Technical Officer, FCA. "In collaboration with Harman - Samsung and Google, we have developed a flexible, easy-to-use and connected 'ecosystem' that not only deploys today's technology, but is also ready to integrate upcoming innovations."