The LA Auto Show is a popular event for the auto industry as it’s timed for the 2013 model releases, and is in an area where cars play such a big role. At the 2012 LA Auto show, more than 40 new vehicles were introduced for the 2013 model year, and although they come from all types of manufacturers, they still hold one thing in common. That one thing is iPhone connectivity, as every manufacturer seems to understand how valuable the iPhone is, especially on the road.
We went to every booth on the show floor, and were able to test drive 10 models at the green & advanced technology ride & drive event. We asked who ever we could at each booth how the respective car interacted with the iPhone, and the overwhelming response was “intelligent connectivity”. There was some old USB connectivity, and even a Bently offered a 30-pin connector, but for the most part wireless is the main connection. Cars have been connecting with Bluetooth enabled phones for a number of years to make calls.
Connecting intelligently with the iPhone is a whole new ball game, and a majority of cars can play music stored on the iPhone, and show all of it on the in-car screen. In fact, the cars can playback any audio from your iPhone over Bluetooth so Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, etc can play through the car speakers as well after simple Bluetooth pairing. Speaking of Pandora, many 2013 models now have an app suite, taking a cue from the iPhone, including Pandora, and the cars can sync your Pandora account for your stations to be available on the in-car system.
If that wasn’t enough, the 2013 Chevy Sonic and Spark both connect with Siri so the steering wheel controls can let you interact with Siri, “Eyes Free”. Many other manufacturers said they’re jumping on board, but had no particular 2013 models to announce with the Eyes Free connectivity. Speaking of the steering wheel controls, a number of cars can control the iPhone with those controls. For the green & advanced technology ride & drive event, these cars like the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, Fisker Karma, Honda Accord Plug-in, Toyota Prius Plug-in, and others have iPhone apps. You can control the cars charging, start-up, locking, climate control, and more from your iPhone. These electric, and hybrid vehicles are more like computers on wheels than traditional automobiles, and that’s why the iPhone is playing a bigger and bigger role in the auto industry.
The LA Auto Show was an outstanding event, and the biggest takeaway is that the technology advancements in smartphones are directly triggering and pushing technology advancements in automobiles. Your next car will most likely intelligently connect with your iPhone.