Yesterday, in amongst the news flowing from Google I/O 2015, Huawei and Volkswagen announced plans to cooperate with in-car technology. Their plans include a project that will integrate smartphone functions with vehicle-mounted controls and the idea here is that drivers will be able to safely operate their smartphones on the move. The joint venture was announced at the International Consumer Electronics Show Asia, Shanghai; Huawei and Volkswagen demonstrated a series of applications that allow drivers to control the navigation systems, play music, send and receive messages, plus of course make and receive calls via the ‘phone. This suite of applications support MirrorLink, the open technological standard designed to closely integrate smartphones with in-car systems. MirrorLink includes ‘phone calls, SMS, navigation, multimedia and payment functions, all centred around the smartphone.
Volkswagen Group China’s Executive Vice President for Research and Development, Sven Patuschka, had this to say on the matter: “Our cooperation with Huawei will seamlessly blend the capabilities of users’ smartphones with the systems in their cars. All content on the phone will be shown in real time on the car’s infotainment touch screen. The result is smart and convenient interaction between phone and car.” Huawei Consumer BG’s Chief Executive Officer, Richard Yu, said that vehicles are turning into smart terminals and that Huawei’s rich experience with vehicle-mounted devices, data and of course cloud systems, Huawei is well positioned to collaborate with Volkswagen – and let’s not forget that the Volkswagen Group owns twelve brands and delivered more than ten million vehicles last year, with China being the biggest market.
It is exciting to see more manufacturers considering using Android-based systems or at least smartphones, but I cannot help but feel a hint of sadness that Huawei and Volkswagen are having to reinvent their Android Auto wheel for the Chinese market. This is because the majority of Google Services are still banned in China, which requires a different approach. The partnership between these two manufacturers is a little different than the Android Auto project, but from the press release it appears that the Volkswagen / Huawei vehicle collaboration is limited to China for the time. That the Chinese market is Volkswagen’s largest will soften the blow, but the German car manufacturer still needs to build two in-vehicle systems.