Toyota-Ford Defend Control of Dashboard From Apple-Google

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Toyota Motor Corp. and Ford Motor Co. may join forces to maintain control of their vehicle dashboards as Apple Inc. and Google Inc. introduce technology targeting the car industry.

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, will explore working with Ford on integrating smartphone applications into future vehicles, the two companies said in e-mailed statements. Ford says its SmartDeviceLink technology allows companies like Pandora Inc. to develop apps only once for use in multiple infotainment systems, while also allowing carmakers to control the design of their dashboards.

By exploring a collaboration, Toyota and Ford are showing caution against letting Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto dictate the future of in-car entertainment and navigation systems. Dashboards have become a battleground for carmakers as they seek to attract younger customers who demand connectivity features in their rides.

“They’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears and a lot of R&D resources into developing their own systems, so how can you then say ‘OK, Google and Apple, come in and take over’?” said Mark Boyadjis, an analyst for IHS Automotive. “The car companies need to be very shrewd with how they integrate things like CarPlay and Android Auto.”

Automakers may sell about 31 million vehicles with CarPlay and 37 million with Android Auto by 2020, according to IHS forecasts. At those growth rates, these systems would be available in vehicles about as quickly as Bluetooth and auxiliary-cord inputs have over the last 10 years, Boyadjis said.

While Apple lists Toyota and Ford as partners that will offer models with CarPlay on its website, Toyota is absent from Google’s lineup for Android Auto.

Last week, Hyundai Motor Co. said it would become the first carmaker with Android Auto available in U.S. models, starting with its 2015 Sonata sedan. General Motors Co. also said its redesigned Cruze compact will be the first of most 2016 Chevrolets to offer both Android Auto and CarPlay.

(Updates with comment from analyst in fourth paragraph.)
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