Porsche North America CEO Kjell Grunner recently explained in an interview with Bloomberg how the automaker, and car companies in general, are lagging behind smartphones when it comes to in-car tech.
As a person who loves cars and tech, this is super exciting to hear since I’d argue most vehicles are still using infotainment systems that feel old, even if they’re brand new. It’s not that these older systems don’t work, but when you compare them to CarPlay and Android Auto, they feel unintuitive and retro.
Even newer systems like the Android Automotive-based version in the Volvo XC40 Recharge still cling to outdated design tropes.
While it’s not for everyone, Tesla seems to be the only company that was working to really make a cleanly designed infotainment system. For over a year, I’ve been saying that Tesla’s infotainment design is ahead of its time. Similar to how the iPhone was in 2008. This really sucks since most consumers can’t afford a Tesla, but they don’t deserve the crappy infotainment most legacy brands leave them with.
While most car heads will scoff at this and say, “it’s more about how the car feels rather than the screens inside,” they’re missing the point. Cars are basically huge computers now, and since they’re something that you usually buy and keep for many years, a bad infotainment system can really make or break the experience.
Younger people like me are into tech. For instance, when I bought my Jetta, the main reason I purchased it was because it was one of the few cars that I could get in my price range that had Android Auto/CarPlay and a manual transmission. I’m only telling this story to illustrate what young people are looking for. Regular people want to get in a car that feels modern and clean. Not something that looks and acts like a ten-year-old sci-fi movie prop.
Throughout the interview, the CEO also talks about some other digital experiences that the company is developing, like the ability to create a virtual garage of Porshe cars to look at before you buy that I’m not sure is worth it. That said, I believe his heart is in the right place and that the company can develop a modern OS to run inside of its cars. Now, what I’m really hoping for is more companies to follow suit.