Ford has just announced that Google Android will power the infotainment system and voice assistant in millions of Ford and Lincoln vehicles around the world starting 2023.
Ford joins Volvo, GM, and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, who’ve all signed similar deals with Google. But Google has several formidable competitors in this space who sure to fight back.
Because audio has been an integral part of the driving experience ever since Motorola introduced the first car radio some 90 years ago. Today, infotainment systems have become incredibly robust and feature-rich, making a real difference to the in-car experience, with sound at its center.
It’s no wonder that OEMs (carmakers) and Tier 1s and 2s (solution providers) are placing a premium on offering the best infotainment system and fighting over market share.
But beyond the in-car listening experiences, how are automotive brands leveraging audio to connect with consumers?
“Alexa, ask Chevrolet to start my car”
Many automotive brands have developed an Alexa skill or Google Action. This allows drivers to start and stop the engine, lock the doors, and even get gas gauge and odometer readings using voice commands.
Interestingly, GM seems to be a leader here, with 6,000 reviews, mostly positive, on the Chevrolet Amazon skill.
But brands want to have their own identity and voice and some tech companies are willing to make a concession by allowing it. In a recent change of policy, Amazon has announced that it will allow car makers to use Alexa software to build their own voice assistants, starting with Fiat-Chrysler.
“Play my latest podcasts”
Consumer brands are no strangers to podcasts so it’s rather surprising that automotive brands have been left behind, especially since car brands have some of the largest marketing departments and budgets.
And it makes sense for them to launch branded podcasts, as around 22% of podcast listening occurs while driving.
While branded podcasts can be boring, Ford seized a unique opportunity when nostalgia led some employees to demand the company start remaking the classic Bronco. The company launched, with much fanfare, an 8-part podcast series about the car’s history called Bring Back Bronco. What made the podcast successful was its journalistic approach.
Tier 1s are in the game too. Harman’s Experiences Per Mile Podcast explores consumer-centric mobility experiences.
And then there are podcasts created by enthusiasts and car dealers, who launch unofficial podcasts about auto brands, such as Nissan Nerd, Ford Mustang The Early Years Podcast, and The MINI Cooper Podcast.
Tesla, of course, is in a category of its own. There are well over a dozen unofficial podcasts covering the most valuable car company in history, which has an equally valuable brand and many fans and listeners.
As in other industries, car news publishers are launching podcasts and generating engaging audio content to provide a more immersive content experience.
Notable automotive magazines who have forayed into podcasting include:
- Automotive News Daily Drive Podcast
- ‘Quick Spin,’ the Podcast That Puts You Inside the Car
- Top Gear Rearview
Short-form playlist – all the latest news and stories about the vehicle industry
Aside from carmakers, brand enthusiasts, and publishers, there are many thousands of podcasts produced by creators about various aspects of the automotive industry.
But how do you keep track?
Luckily, Audioburst offers a curated car playlist! It includes fresh highlights of top radio shows and premium podcasts such as The Smoking Tire, Talking automotive, Talking Mopars, Past gas, Tesla daily, and many more.
This playlist represents the first attempt ever to curate audio content about cars, allowing car enthusiasts to skim, sample, skip, and dive into the episodes they like best. It’s the perfect eyes-free and hands-free playlist for your morning commute.