Home » Nobody Believes GM Can Do Better Than Apple CarPlay

Nobody Believes GM Can Do Better Than Apple CarPlay

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It’s so hard to be an automaker today. Especially an American automaker. There’s a big union fight coming up, automotive financing is getting tough, and China is making it difficult to export key materials. So what’s GM gonna do? Pick a fight with Apple. What? We’ve written about this before, but… what?!? Why?

My head is so confused right now. I’m just so amazed at the audacity of this. Let’s just get right into it.

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GM’s CarPlay Move Is So, So, So, So Sketch

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto easily solved a problem that automakers themselves, after much effort, had not solved. It allowed anyone to connect their phone to a car and suddenly access the features they wanted, using a UI they were familiar with, in a fairly seamless way. While early iterations were not perfect, we’ve all become used to it and it has improved in small but meaningful ways.

Now, General Motors is trying to throw this out for its EVs in favor of a self-developed interface (its gas-powered cars will still have CarPlay, for now). The audacity is striking. It’s like me one day deciding to throw out my refrigerator because I’m gonna make better ice. I’m gonna dig a hole in the ground in winter, fill it up with water and sawdust, and come back a few months later and shave off the tastiest damn frozen liquid you ever deigned to drop in an Arnold Palmer.

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Or not. The ice maker works fine!

The headline for one of our first stories on this was “GM Getting Rid Of Apple CarPlay And Android Auto Is Such A Ridiculous Risk, I Don’t Think They’ll Actually Do It” and Jason opined:

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are incredibly popular, with a vast number of car buyers demanding the systems as a prerequisite to even consider a new car. This seems, to me, like a stellar act of not just stepping, but actually stomping, with golf shoes, on one’s own metaphorical dong that I feel confident in predicting that even GM will, at some point in the near future, walk this back. I mean, I hope they do. Or that they prove me wrong about this being a bad idea and I have to eat my own socks.

Well. Get out your golfing shoes because it’s happening and dealers are not super excited about it. From a Detroit Free Press article we get some interesting nuggets from a GM dealer source:

“I don’t even know the name of (GM’s) new system, much less what benefits our customers can expect,” the dealer source said. “Nobody has had any communication from GM. What am I supposed to tell my customers?”

CarPlay is available in basically every new vehicle and it’s now the de facto car operating system. It sometimes doesn’t play well with redundant, in-car systems, but mostly around using features like Sirius XM. Guess what? Apple, which is great at UI, is planning to fix a lot of those issues in its next CarPlay rollout.

What’s GM doing? From the piece above:

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People familiar with GM’s system say it will use a Bluetooth connection to provide the same access to phone calls, text messages and audio as CarPlay and Android Auto. It also allows drivers to access built-in features, like SiriusXM and the automaker’s navigation system without having to switch from CarPlay to another display, as is necessary in many vehicles.

However, the GM system will be unable to reach into your iPhone’s contacts list for commands like, “Directions to Carole’s house.”

GM responds that all its owners will have to do is create a contacts list in their Google account.

WHAT?!? I hope you’re all getting ready to walk your uncle through setting up a contacts list in his Google account. I can’t wait for the average Chevy dealer to deliver that line.

This seems so much like GM’s classic bad-timing (i.e. it finally has an EV hit with the Bolt just in time to stop making the Bolt) that it’s almost parody. It’s solving a problem that, it seems, is basically about to be solved.

I have a theory for why this is happening. Carmakers are still committed to the idea of consumers subscribing for car services even if consumers hate the idea. As cars become increasingly digital, those subscription services will be integrated into the infotainment. If someone else controls that infotainment it’s going to get much, much harder to do that.

If this is what’s happening, then this is beancounter-first thinking (another historically GM-trait) and a phenomenally huge risk given that the company is about to launch a bunch of new products into a crowded marketplace and need to start clawing sales back from Tesla (which, famously, also does not have CarPlay). I’m excited about the 2024 Chevy Equinox EV. It has the possibility of being a great product.

Could this kill GM’s EV momentum? I have no idea. I just know the risk is out-of-this-world high. Maybe it’ll pay off!

[Editor’s Note: I, for one, am hoping GM can pull something out of its hat. The company is filled with tens of thousands of immensely capable engineers and product planners, after all. -DT]. 

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The UAW Is Not Playing

You know the cliché about reality TV participants saying “I’m not here to make friends” over-and-over again? Look at the video above. Honestly, if you are not aware of this meme you probably live a fuller, richer life than I do (“This is Flavor of Love, not Flavor of Friendship” is al all-timer, though).

Guess who else isn’t here to make friends? New United Auto Workers President Shawn Fein, whose name does sorta sound like the formerly militant Irish political group in a way I think is almost a little too on-the-noise.

There’s a longstanding tradition of United Auto Workers Presidents shaking hands with automaker CEOs at the beginning of negotiations. But there’s also a tradition of UAW leaders being extremely corrupt and making deals with automakers that weren’t always to the benefit of workers on the line, which is why union members, somewhat historically, sacked the traditional leadership.

I appreciate this story from The Detroit News, which gets right to the point:

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Gestures at previous handshake events — particularly a hug between convicted former UAW President Dennis Williams and Sergio Marchionne, the late former CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV before it merged to create Stellantis — have become symbols of the years-long corruption scandal that entailed FCA executives bribing officials of the Detroit-based union.

So, no handshakes. It sounds petty, sort of, but it’s symbolic.

“The members come first,” Fain said in a statement. “I’ll shake hands with the CEOs when they come to the table with a deal that reflects the needs of the workers who make this industry run. When the 150,000 autoworkers at Ford, GM, and Stellantis receive the respect they are due for their sacrifice in generating the historic profits of the past decade, then we can proceed with a handshake.”

‘This is Flavor of Love, not Flavor of Friendship,” indeed.

So, yeah, GM is opening up an invasion on its eastern flank while still figuring out how to deal with battles out west. Moscow by October!

[Editor’s Note: For the record, we are very much here to make friends. – JT]

China Wants To Limit Gallium Exports

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China has decided, somewhat predictably, to de-Westernize. The country has learned enough from Western automakers, Western brands, et cetera, and it’s ready to go out on its own, thank you very much.

Learning about electric cars is just realizing, over-and-over again, that the material necessities of batteries, controllers, and motors are different than the material necessities of gas-powered vehicles, and most of the materials that are needed are made, found, and processed in China.

Today’s thing you maybe didn’t know about and now need to be an expert on? Gallium. Specifically, gallium nitride, which is a light, cheap-to-produce, and super conductive metal that makes on-board car chargers work way, way better.

Guess who makes a bunch of it? China. Guess who doesn’t make a bunch of it? Basically everyone else. Guess what China did? Yup, it decided to limit the export of gallium nitride.

Per Reuters:

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The auto industry is only now recovering from a pandemic-fueled global semiconductor shortage that forced automakers to halt production of some models and in some cases to leave unfinished vehicles standing waiting for a single chip.

Alastair Neill, a director at the Critical Minerals Institute, said that automakers who are in the early stages of designing their next generation of EVs could opt for silicon carbide, even though gallium nitride performs about 30% better, rather than risk a fresh supply chain headache.

“If you are already banking on gallium nitride and designing it into your platform, then you’re in trouble,” he said.

Another front for GM, fantastic!

Used Car Wholesale Prices Are Down, But New Car Dealers Have Fresh Ammo

Used car prices, as measured by Cox Automotive’s Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index (different Mannheim), should start going down. Here’s how Automotive News describes what’s happening:

The Manheim index was 10.3 percent lower last month compared with the same month in 2022, according to Cox. The company also reported nonadjusted figures for the Manheim index — down 3.8 percent in June from May and down 10.1 percent year over year.

The 4.2 percent decline is “among the largest declines in [Manheim index] history” and the largest since the intensification of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020, when the index “plunged 11.4 percent,” said Chris Frey, senior manager of economic and industry insights for Cox Automotive.

While most analysts doesn’t seem to think these declines will continue forever (there are not enough cars coming off-lease, for instance), it’s still kinda good news. Will this mean a ton of people flocking to used cars again? Not quite.

Used cars, like new cars, are still financed by a large number of people. The average interest rate for a used auto loan in June for a person with 781+ credit score was 6.79%. That’s pretty high. For a new vehicle it was 5.18%. As CarDealershipGuy pointed out in his newsletter “Some manufacturers are offering special financing for new cars, with low rates that are unattainable for used cars.”

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If you can get a 4% APR on a 60-month term for a $50,000 new car with $10,000 down, that’s a $730 monthly payment. Compare that to a CPO car at $43,000 with $10,000 down and a 7% rate and it’s a $650 a month payment. Would you pay $80 more a month for a new car? Maybe!

The Big Question

Is it possible GM pulls this off? Give me odds? 1/100? 1/1000? 1/10?

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Zipn Zipn
Zipn Zipn
10 months ago

Nothing more that an money play to get recurring revenue. Zero benefit for the user. Automatic disqualification of purchase without CP/AA. I want MY user interface to follow me from vehicle to vehicle. MY apps, MY setups, MY displays.

Some GM bean counter thought recurring revenue stream $ > lost sales $.

That bean counter is wrong. Too many new vehicles from other manufacturers will overlap GM’s offerings and will conquer.

Bye Bye GM EVs (We LOVE our Bolts BTW).

Zach Gilbert
Zach Gilbert
10 months ago

Well to be fair the last three new GM vehicles I have owned, none of their Carplay experiences worked for more than a 2-3 hour trip lol.

I had a 2019 Equinox, 2021 Silverado, and a 2023 Colorado and all three of them shared the same fate of a black screen infotainment center after about 2-3 hours of Google Maps and Spotify running. I could turn off the vehicles multiple times, and it’d still remain. Then we thought it was the phone, and ran Android Auto and unfortunately that did the same.

They replaced head units, fuses, etc. and nothing solved the problem. Eventually the dealers just said their software sucks.

Toobs-N-Stuff
Toobs-N-Stuff
10 months ago

there does not seem to be any upside to this. GM is guaranteeing that a growing percentage of potential buyers will not even consider their products.

I’m gonna own my car ~15 years, proprietary systems are the enemy.

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