Renault joins Volvo and Polestar to offer Google’s Android Automotive in a production vehicle

MUNICH – Renault says new Megane E-Tech Electric compact SUV is first mainstream car to use the Android Automotive operating system, incorporating the look, feel and functionality of an Android smartphone.

Navigation functions are handled by Google Maps, which appears on a 12-inch by 12-inch touchscreen (lower-end versions have a 9-inch-deep screen with the same functionality). Directions can be entered using Google Assistant voice recognition; and there are over 40 apps such as Spotify available on the Google play store, which users can download directly in the car.

“This screen is the cockpit masterpiece of the new Mégane,” Renault chief designer Gilles Vidal told the Munich auto show on Monday. “By partnering with Google Automotive Services, we have been able to provide accessible and user-friendly applications.”

Renault Group CEO Luca de Meo said the Open R Link was the “real gem” of the new Mégane, noting that 75% of smartphones worldwide run on the Android system.

Android Automotive is an operating system that runs directly on the car’s on-board hardware, in this case a third generation Qualcomm Snapdragon Automotive cockpit platform that uses AI to improve speech recognition and security use cases.

Android Auto, on the other hand, runs on the user’s smartphone and is projected onto the vehicle’s infotainment system with a USB connection. Apple phone users can connect to the Megane screen using Apple Car Play, which works the same as Android Auto.

Android Automotive is currently used to drive infotainment systems in two production vehicles, the Volvo XC40 Recharge EV and the Polestar 2 EV. It is expected to appear on future GM models, starting with the revived Hummer brand and the Cadillac Lyric, and Stellantis and Ford have announced that future models will use the operating system.

Other automakers, such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Tesla, are developing their own operating systems. But Android Automotive is a standard open source system that allows automakers to customize it according to their needs.

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