Volvo launched a fully electric version of the company's popular XC40 SUV one week before the launch of the first electric vehicle under its own brand. On Wednesday, the Swedish automaker announced that the car is also celebrating a premiere: it will be the first Volvo car with an infotainment system based on Google's new embedded Android Automotive software.
That is, the new electric XC40 comes with built-in features and apps like Google Assistant and Google Maps, without the need for an Android smartphone. The SUV infotainment system will also provide access to the Play Store, allowing owners to download apps approved by Google for use in the automotive sector.
We've known for over two years that Volvo is working to integrate Android into its cars. In fact, at its I / O conference in 2018, Google showed an early version of the software running on a gas-powered XC40. This will not necessarily be the first car with integrated Android, nor will it be the first all-electric car in the entire Volvo Group. Volvo's strong sub-brand, Polestar, has claimed both titles with the Polestar 2 EV, due for launch in 2020. However, the Volvo XC40 is a more affordable, higher-volume car that will reach more customers.
With the comprehensive integration of Android, drivers and passengers can use Google Assistant to change climate settings, for example. In addition, according to Volvo, wireless updates can be made to add new features or fix some maintenance issues. And yes, with the Google and Volvo system, users can connect their iPhones and use Apple CarPlay.
All these additional features offer a different experience than the new infotainment system currently available in a Volvo vehicle will still look known to anyone who has used the automaker's existing Sensus software.
This is one of the main goals of the entire partnership model Google is tracking. The technology giant offers a reliable software backbone that every car manufacturer can develop and market according to their wishes. Apart from Volvo, Google has also signed big names like General Motors and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. It's a long way from the time a few years ago, when automakers were so reluctant to let tech companies take on a bit of the experience in the car that many were sluggish on their initial deployments of Android Auto and CarPlay.