It seems that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles liked what Google has done to its hybrid Pacifica minivan so much that it announced a new collaboration with the tech company, and this time, it involves the development of its Uconnect infotainment system based on Android Nougat.
Android Auto Plus UConnect
A working prototype will be showcased at CES 2017, and it will be outfitted in the dashboard of a Chrysler 300 sedan. Consumers can expect a modified Android build, tailored according to the current Uconnect system. This seems to be different than Android Auto as FCA states it is tweaking Android Nougat itself to integrate core Google services into Uconnect.
"With Android, we are able to maintain our unique and intuitive Uconnect user interface, all while integrating our easy-to-use systems with Android's features and ecosystem of applications," Chris Barman, head of electrical engineering at FCA, explained in an official release.
Barman also noted that the collaboration would mean FCA and its cars will be contributing to the development of in-vehicle technology, particularly with respect to gauging and satisfying consumer requirements and desires in their infotainment systems.
Google In-Vehicle Technology Ambition
If one does think about it, the Google-FCA partnership seems inevitable. It is helpful to remember that Google has already released the latest update to Android Auto, which made it available to the entire Android-wielding public. What is particularly important is how devices running the app can immediately provide the full Android Auto experience once plugged in to vehicles.
This capability could actually diminish the roles of proprietary infotainment systems such as the FCA's existing Uconnect technology because Android Auto hosts key applications that many consumers want such as Google Maps, Spotify, and Google Assistant, among others.
In the case of Chrysler, Android will be embedded into the dashboard. FCA, however, has carefully highlighted that it will be heavily tweaked to achieve what it calls as unique and intuitive Uconnect interface.
This line is probably more for the purpose of branding. An infotainment system adds character to a vehicle, and you may be sure it is part of the consumers' purchase decisions. Just like any automaker, FCA tries to ensure that its in-vehicle technology is a cut above the rest.
For those wondering how the Chrysler Android-based Uconnect system will look like, a version completely powered by Android Auto has already been teased during the Google I/O event last May inside a Maserati Ghibli. In partnership with Qualcomm, FCA showed off a 15-inch, 4K touch screen infotainment system that recalls the form factor of the same dashboard technology found in Tesla.