Infotainment-With Mercedes, Faurecia-Aptoide reaches critical size against Google

by Gilles Guillaume

PARIS, April 28 (Reuters) – The joint venture between automotive supplier Faurecia, now Forvia, and independent app store Aptoide, has landed a contract with Mercedes to help it reach critical size to offer a real Google or Amazon alternative in the battle of on-board infotainment.

This multi-year global partnership announced on Thursday aims to integrate into the MBUX multimedia system of the German high-end giant, from 2023, an open platform offering a total of nearly 250 apps – navigation, traffic, streaming, payment solution, parking information and charging stations – which can be updated remotely several times a year.

“We believe that there is room for two actors, one of the Gafa type, one Google, which facilitates the construction of this type of product, and then for a second alternative actor”, explained in an interview Reuters Thomas Belin , Deputy General Manager of Faurecia-Aptoide. “Today, with such contracts we see that we have this critical mass (…) and that we are legitimate in this market.”

Created in 2019 by the French equipment manufacturer, renamed Forvia after the takeover of its German competitor Hella, and by the Portugal-based Android application specialist, the JV has already concluded contracts with Volkswagen and BMW to supply their vehicles to a competing ecosystem of Google.

Others should follow soon, a French manufacturer so expected as well as a premium brand which would inaugurate the app store in Europe.

SINEWS OF WAR

Backed by Aptoide’s ten years of white-label experience for mobile phones and television, the JV offers an affordable and tailor-made solution to automotive groups that have opted for the Android Automotive base.

Faurecia-Aptoide also claims an offer where the automaker, always jealous of the control of its cockpit, remains more in control.

“We are going to provide a much more customizable app store offer, where each manufacturer will be able to really appropriate the solution, choose their ecosystem and have control over personal data, which is an important issue”, added Thomas Belin.

The Faurecia-Aptoide solution thus makes it possible to use as an interface, for example, a “myvolkswagen” account, and not a Google account, and to evolve in the universe of the client brand, and not in that of the American glove.

The JV is also responsible for validating itself all the updates proposed by the application publishers in order to guarantee their proper functioning and their interest for the vehicle’s environment.

In addition to electrification, the management of data from connected cars will be the sinews of war in the auto industry over the next few decades. As for the French manufacturers, Renault has opted for co-development with Google for the infotainment of its new electric Megane.

In January, Faurecia claimed for the Aptoide platform three million vehicles in circulation worldwide, a fleet that does not yet include BMW and Mercedes contracts. (Gilles Guillaume, with Nick Carey London, said by Nicolas Delame)

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