AUTO makers could be risking losing control of in-car technology by allowing Apple and Google to dominate customer experiences, a leading connectivity provider has warned.
Cambridge-based VNC Automotive says that Sillicon Valley systems could have serious consequences for motorists.
With electric vehicles gaining in popularity, opportunities for car manufacturers to create distinguishing features and engineer-in character are diminishing, says VNC.
While component and platform sharing is critical to an EV's commercial viability, it also limits individualisation, adds the car connectivity and telematics software company.
VNC has spoken out after Apple announced it intends to use its CarPlay interface to extend its reach within cars and take control of heating and air conditioning systems, seat controls and instrument clusters.
Tom Blackie, chief executive of VNC Automotive, said: "While Apple's advances appear to be a good thing on the face of it - giving car companies access to ready-built systems that customers are already familiar with - this could be the slippery slope that cuts vehicle manufacturers out of the in-car experience altogether."
The expansion of functionality would allow iPhone users to control much of their car's features from within the CarPlay interface. The more entrenched Apple's devices become in daily lives, the less likely users are to leave the system, VNC adds.
On the Google front, models from the likes of Renault and Volvo have adopted the Android Automotive operating system, relinquishing control of nearly all digital surfaces in the car and giving the tech giant unprecedented access to their customer's lives.
While that raises privacy and security concerns that are unlikely to trouble the younger audience the car industry is vying for, there's a risk that some buyers may feel alienated by the choice of one platform over another.
VNC says there is a risk that a car's features may become inaccessible to its owner if they refuse to upgrade to the latest handset, or that functionality a car was equipped with when new suddenly disappears should Google decide to withdraw support.
"The car makers we work with are keen to ensure backwards compatibility across devices and throughout the lifespan of the vehicle. With the average age of cars on British roads now higher than ever at 8.4 years, compared to barely two years for a typical smartphone, these are durations Silicon Valley just isn't used to," said Mr Blackie.
VNC Automotive is a pioneer in car connectivity and telematics software, and its technology is currently in use in over 35 million vehicles, across 20 of the world's largest automotive car companies including the VW Group, Toyota, Honda, PSA.
VNC also supplies software across the automotive ecosystem to equipment suppliers such as Bosch, Panasonic, Clarion, Pioneer and device vendors such as Sony, HTC, LG, and Huawei.
Its software supports all popular vehicle connectivity standards from Android Auto,CarPlay,CarLife,MirrorLinkandSDL.