Toyota joins Ford in resisting Apple-Google dominance of car screens

By Craig Trudell

Toyota first agreed to collaborate with Ford on car telematics systems in 2011 and said in June last year that it was exploring SmartDeviceLink for its vehicles.
Toyota first agreed to collaborate with Ford on car telematics systems in 2011 and said in June last year that it was exploring SmartDeviceLink for its vehicles.

Toyota has agreed to use a car-phone connectivity system championed by Ford in a front to keep Apple and Google from dominating control of dashboards.

Toyota will introduce a telematics system with Ford's SmartDeviceLink, an open platform that the carmakers are inviting their peers to adopt for in-car applications, it said.

The company has resisted offering Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto, citing safety and security concerns, while Ford is offering them as apps within its Sync connectivity system this year.

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"Developing a safer and more secure in-car smartphone connectivity service which better matches individual vehicle features is exactly the value and advantage an automaker can offer customers," Shigeki Terashi, a Toyota executive vice-president, said. Ford said Honda, Fuji Heavy Industries' Subaru, Mazda and Peugeot also are investigating SmartDeviceLink.

The deal shows two of the world's largest carmakers remain wary about giving Apple and Google too much control over displays that IHS Automotive estimates will generate $18.6 billion in sales by 2021.

For Toyota, which is involved in another system called MirrorLink that competes with the two tech giants, the collaboration with Ford suggest the company is spreading its bets on car connectivity options.

Consumer awareness of CarPlay and Android Auto "really does fundamentally change what consumers want out of that system in their centre stack," said Jeremy Carlson, an IHS Automotive analyst. Apple and Google will deliver "most likely the biggest disruption to in-vehicle infotainment systems in the history of automotive".

Toyota first agreed to collaborate with Ford on car telematics systems in 2011 and said in June last year that it was exploring SmartDeviceLink for its vehicles. MirrorLink, which lets drivers run navigation and entertainment apps on their smartphones using large icons on their dashboard screens, was created by the Car Connectivity Consortium, a group of carmakers and phone manufacturers including Volkswagen, General Motors, Hyundai, Samsung Electronics and HTC.

"We want 25 nav apps, we want 15 music players, we want things that people haven't even thought of to come to this space," Alan Ewing, the consortium's president, said. For Apple and Google, "they're not there to create an environment for app developers to do cool things. They're there to enable their own businesses."

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