Stellantis Won't Use Android Automotive Software Like General Motors

Technology / 10 Comments

Is Google's domination of digital dashboards over before it truly began?

Over the last year or so, Google has made great strides in the automotive industry with its Android Automotive Operating System. Volvo was one of the first automakers to adopt the Android-based system with Google built-in capability, but other automakers like General Motors have introduced the system too, and Google will soon revitalize the infotainment experience for Ford. Apple is making its own moves to transform the digital dashboard, but Google is several steps ahead for now.

But just when it seemed that Google was set to dominate the in-car digital experience, one major automaker, Stellantis, has identified flaws with the Android Automotive OS and decided to go another route. That's a big blow for Google considering the many brands under the Stellantis umbrella, but why was this decision taken?

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"We've decided we're not going to move to Google Automotive Services," said Ned Curic, chief technology officer at Stellantis. Curic was talking to Autocar at the 2022 Paris Motor Show when he spilled the beans.

Apparently, Android Automotive failed to provide the "unique experiences" Stellantis wanted for its customers, and the company also found the Google operating system to be too "heavy," in that it needs many data-rich updates and plenty of computer power to work smoothly.

"Managing a large fleet for download scheduling becomes challenging," said Curic. "Other carmakers are learning to deal with that, but they're finding out unless they use a much lighter operating platform, it's very difficult."

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There were signs that Stellantis would move over to Google Automotive Services since the new Jeep Avenger runs the software. However, the Avenger also utilizes the voice assistant from Amazon Alexa and runs TomTom's maps, so it's a combination of several providers.

While Stellantis is pretty much the first dissenting voice when it comes to Android Automotive, we're inclined to take it seriously on this matter. Why? Because for years, the brand's Uconnect infotainment system has impressed us. Equipped to models as diverse as the Jeep Wagoneer and Dodge Challenger, we have always found this to be an especially intuitive system. Based on this, if Stellantis feels there are limitations to Android Automotive, one has to assume the company knows what it's talking about.

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As cars become increasingly connected, Stellantis knows that the tech decisions it makes today will affect an entire generation of cars, so it figures that it wants to proceed with caution with its upcoming STLA SmartCockpit digital platforms, due in 2024.

"We haven't spoke about which operating system we will use, but the likelihood is it will [not be] Android-based," said Curic. "It'll be a much lighter, purpose-designed digital cabin software. Something similar but much lighter than somebody like Tesla has."

Essentially, Stellantis wants to stay in control of what customers see on their dashboards. And, while going the Google route might be simpler, it seems Stellantis is willing to tough it out for the benefit of its customers.

2023 GMC Hummer Infotainment System CarBuzz Infotainment System Chevrolet
2023 GMC Hummer Infotainment System
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Source Credits: Autocar

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