MUNICH — Renault states that the new Megane E-Tech Electric compact SUV is the first mainstream vehicle to use the Android Automotive operating system, incorporating the look, feel and features of an Android smartphone.
Navigation tasks are handled by Google Maps, which is displayed on a 12-inch x 12-inch touch screen (the low-end version gets a 9-inch deep screen with the same functionality). Directions can be entered using the Google Assistant’s voice recognition. In addition, the Google Play store has more than 40 apps such as Spotify, which users can download directly to their car.
“This screen is a masterpiece of the new Megane cockpit,” Renault chief designer Gilles Vidal said at a car show in Munich on Monday. “By partnering with Google Automotive Services, we were able to provide an easy-to-access and user-friendly app.”
Renault Group CEO Lucademeo pointed out that Open R Link is the new Megane’s “real gem” and that 75% of the world’s smartphones run on Android systems.
Android Automotive is an operating system that runs directly on the in-vehicle hardware of a car. In this case, it’s a third-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon car cockpit platform that uses AI to improve speech recognition and safety use cases.
In contrast, Android Auto runs on the user’s smartphone and is projected onto the vehicle’s infotainment system using a USB connection. Apple phone users can connect to Megane’s screen using Apple CarPlay, which works like 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. Both Stellantis and Ford have announced that they will use the operating system in future models, including the resurrected Hummer brand and Cadillac Lyric, which will be included in future GM models.
Other automakers such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla are developing their own operating systems. However, Android Automotive is an off-the-shelf open source system that automakers can customize to suit their needs.
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