GM going full Google with new infotainment systems launching in 2021

general motors adding google features to infotainment systems 2019 chevrolet cruze hatchback

Android Auto and its counterpart, Apple CarPlay, changed automotive infotainment by allowing drivers to use the same Android or Apple apps from their phones in their cars. Now General Motors is taking things a step further by integrating Google features directly with its infotainment systems. The first GM vehicles with built-in Google features will launch in 2021.

GM will use Android as the basis for its future infotainment systems, the automaker said in a statement. That will give drivers access to Google Assistant, with voice controls that GM believes will eventually cover most infotainment functions. Google Maps will be embedded as well, along with the Google Play App Store.

Even after the Android-based infotainment systems launch, GM will continue to offer both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as the OnStar telematics service, reports Reuters. OnStar provides some services, such as turn-by-turn directions, that Google can provide, but it connects drivers to human operators. It also provides emergency services. GM said Google features will be available across all four of its U.S. brands — Chevrolet, GMC, Buick, and Cadillac — but the features will not be available in China, according to Reuters.

Automakers were initially hesitant to let tech companies like Google and Apple into their cars. They feared having to share the limelight with popular Silicon Valley brands, as well as sharing valuable customer data. But car buyers demand smartphone-like functions, even as concerns over distracted driving persist. In addition to GM, Google has made deals with Volvo and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance to develop infotainment systems for future cars.

GM is in the midst of a major overhaul. In 2018, the largest U.S. automaker announced that would eliminate a large number of vehicles from its lineup, leading to factory closures and employee layoffs. The changes were meant to eliminate slow-selling models and free up cash for investment in emerging tech. GM has since announced a new vehicle electrical architecture meant to support more tech features, and will finally follow up the success of the Chevrolet Bolt EV with more electric cars. The automaker is also developing self-driving cars, although that program experienced a setback recently

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