Groupe PSA Will Integrate Android Automotive into All Cars Starting in 2023
A lot of European drivers will be using the Android Automotive operating system starting in 2023. Google has reached an agreement with Groupe PSA, the umbrella company for several European car brands to integrate Android Automotive into its vehicles. Citroën, Peugeot, and the European divisions of both Chrysler and GM are among Groupe PSA’s brands, which could give Google a significant advantage in the car voice assistant space in Europe.
Android Automotive is a native operating system for information and entertainment that drivers control through Google Assistant. The native aspect sets it apart from Android Auto, a different service that connects a car to Google Assistant through a smartphone. What Groupe PSA is adding to its cars will be specially adapted for each type of vehicle. That includes apps designed just for those cars along with access to the Google Play Store. The driver has more control over the AI in the car to go with the unique services, instead of the more one-size-fits-all approach of Android Auto. Volvo has already begun adding the operating system to some of its vehicles, including the new Polestar 2. Still, the new agreement is much more expansive than anything Google has done with Android Automotive yet.
“Groupe PSA continues its digital transformation and its collaboration with Google,” Groupe PSA CDO Christophe Rauturier said in a statement on LinkedIn about the deal. “Android Automotive OS will enable Groupe PSA to improve agility and efficiency while providing personalized interfaces to customers in the car. This new collaboration is an important step in the relationship between PSA and Google.”
The new partnership is especially important at a moment when car-based voice assistants are on the cusp of becoming as standard as a radio. Google has plenty of rivals from both the automotive and voice assistant spaces. Amazon offers alternatives using its Alexa voice assistant in cars, although with a somewhat different angle. There aren’t that many cars built with Alexa inside, although Lamborghini and Rivian joined the list at the beginning of the year. Amazon has been very focused on expanding sales of the Echo Auto device, which sits somewhere between Android Auto and Android Automotive. The small box plugs into a car and connects to Alexa on a smartphone like Android Auto, but includes specialized features and voice apps that aren’t usually accessible, making it more like Android Automotive. Amazon has also been working on making Alexa more useful in cars with tricks like paying for gas at Exxon and Mobil gas stations.
While Google and Amazon are extending their voice assistant competition to cars, companies like Cerence are focused solely on bringing AI to vehicles. Cerence just launched a new synthetic voice called Cerence Reader, but that’s just the latest of a torrent of new products designed to convince carmakers to use its platform. It offers both the highly customizable Cerence Studio as well as the turn-key Cerence ARK Assistant to car companies. It even offers multiple, simultaneously available voice assistants within a car through its Cognitive Arbitrator system. Cerence counts Audi and Fiat as partners but is aggressively pursuing new ones. Groupe PSA choosing Google as the provider of its automotive AI platform will likely intensify the battle over making cars smarter.