Mercedes to fit existing vehicles with Apple's CarPlay?

Mercedes to fit existing vehicles with Apple's CarPlay?

Summary: Maybe. Perhaps. If it actually knew when CarPlay was arriving.

The interior of the new Mercedes C-Class saloon. Image: Mercedes

Apple's CarPlay, a platform bringing iOS apps and Siri to in-car systems, hasn't even arrived yet, but Mercedes is apparently planning to extend it to older vehicles via an after-market product.

Apple's CarPlay, on display at the Geneva International Motor Show this week, will begin appearing in vehicles later this year, bringing the iOS interface into the vehicle's infotainment screen where iOS apps such as phone, messaging, navigation as well as some third-party apps share space with the vehicle manufacturer's own content and apps.

Ferrari will provide CarPlay integration in its new FF model, Volvo is doing the same for its XC90 SUV, to be released later this year, and Mercedes will have it installed in its new C-Class vehicles, most likely alongside Android and MirrorLink integration.

But what about CarPlay for all the owners that bought last year's C-Class or, in Volvo's case, last year's model of the XC90? Or is CarPlay only for new cars?

According to 9to5 Mac, Mercedes has confirmed it will offer an "after-market solution by the end of the year", which it speculates could come in the form of a dealer-installed accessory, similar to after-market Siri Eyes Free integration offered by some Honda dealerships.

However, ZDNet contacted Mercedes UK and was told by a spokesperson that it could not confirm the car maker would offer an after-market solution yet, since "we don't have have any firm dates for its arrival yet".

Volvo isn't certain yet whether it will offer a service to integrate CarPlay for vehicles that have already been sold. 

"We have not yet decided if  -- or in that case, when -- we will be offering an aftermarket solution for CarPlay, but we are measuring consumer interest following the announcement last week," David Holecek, Volvo Car's connectivity brand and marketing manager told ZDNet.

Volvo last year worked with Neonode to build an Android-based infotainment system with a 7-inch display called Sensus Connected Touch. Holecek said the way forward for Volvo infotainment displays was portrait over landscape. 

Mercedes this week stressed that Android integration would be available as soon as Google's Android infotainment system was ready.

According to Volvo, Apple CarPlay allows connection of an iPhone to the car through a Lightning cable. The connection is based on a streaming H.264 video feed that returns user input from the touchscreen.

Ferrari similarly had a wired connection for its demo in Geneva this week, according to Engadget's hands-on. It noted that Volvo is working on a wireless connection too.

Countries currently listed for CarPlay distribution include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Spain, Switzerland, UK and USA. Despite Volvo's early support, Sweden, as with the rest of the Nordics, are off the list.

Other car manufacturers that plan to release CarPlay in the future include BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Jaguar, Kia, Landrover, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Pegeot-Citroen, Subaru, Suzuki, and Toyota.

More on this story

Topics: Apple, Android, Smartphones

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Just wondering?

    What costs more the Mercedes car, or the option to add proprietary Apple CarPlay?
    Sean Foley
    • as opposed to proprietary QNX (Blackberry) or Microsoft Auto (Ford Sync)?

      They're all proprietary.
      • CarPlay runs on top of QNX

        According to Paul Leroux at QNX:

        “Connectivity to smartphones and other mobile devices is a key strength of QNX Software Systems’ platform for car infotainment systems, and many automakers and tier one automotive suppliers use our platform to implement smartphone/head-unit integration in their vehicles. We have a long-standing partnership with Apple to ensure high-quality connectivity with their devices, and this partnership extends to support for Apple CarPlay.”
    • Bad Bet on a iHorse Not Even at the Gate!

      What is Mercedes doing this for? When Android owns 80% the market on phones, just went ahead on tablets and Windows 8.... WP8... coming up fast on the inside while RIM still not dead last yet? Too much proprietary competition for Apple to overcome... let alone Open Source!

      I think Google would have been a safer bet or their own Linux product. It's already used in many parts of about every car made today, it's Open Source and Free. So they've got the money to at least make it compatible with every smartphone, OS and mobile maker, etc out there. Instead of expecting every single person who buys a Mercedes, is going to want to buy..... let alone have to buy Apple products to support it.

      Mercedes is about to blow chunks on this one and any other car maker that goes for a closed box Elitist niche proprietary ONLY products. Apple is back on track to blow chunks itself for the 4th time. 1st when going for Elite Pricing on Apple III..... and it died barely out the door. You don't help yourself by thinking you're Ferrari or Bugatti, when you are only a German Ford or American Chrysler! .....Lisa failed next being overpriced as well as Sculley overpricing Macs that nearly killed it but at leased crippled it when Steve Jobs of all people told him the price was too high. Steve then got sent to Siberia on the outer limits of Apple campus.

      Apple then in 90's decided their own Copland OS (which was excellent in just 2 years, another year of development would have been great), wasn't good enough. Though Ellen Hancock had stupidly cut off development 6 months into it's 2nd year. Amelio then moronically called Steve Jobs for advice. When he wan't willing to pay $250 million for BeOS. A newer system developed by former Apple Devs, better suited for Apple's long term Cloud and Multimedia aims.

      Steve Jobs naturally tells Amelio, "don't buy BeOS... whatever you do" knowing they couldn't dig Copland up out of the grave, that Ellen Hancock had buried it in. Because she wanted Apple to buy BeOS. Then Steve offered him NeXT for twice what he had been about to pay for BeOS. Steve knew NeXT was sitting on Death Row w/o Adobe PDF support for Enterprise and schools. While Ross Perot's dollars had already flew the chicken coup too. So here's Steve who was already got more involved with Pixar than he was in NeXT, taking the $425 Million from Apple and secretly making the biggest purchase of Apple stock after it fell under $20 to Get on Apple's board. Yeah a real head scratcher. It was a hostile takeover when ultimately he had already planned to do to Amelio what Sculley had done to him.

      Only good thing Amelio had managed to do was license clones. But Steve ever the Megalomaniac decided it wasn't working and killed them on a contract flaw. Yet... it was the clones that had already increased Mac OS market share from 3% to over 11% for it's 1st time challenging Microsoft. AND.... the biggest asset of clones, was losing Apple's own Software sales to clone owners. Which Microsoft had already proven with an inferior OS, was where the profit margins and Revenue was.

      Thus creating Apple's back to 3% Niche Market, that only stayed alive by making more money for Microsoft's software (Office, etc) than their own. Rhapsody failed and Steve's NeXT Mac OS didn't get out until 2001. When he'd promised to deliver it in less than two years in 1996! Elitists never Prosper.... because they can't seem to get their head out of their own rear ends! Mercedes isn't the king of the hill in luxury class cars any longer and Apple iCarPlay isn't going to help make any more money either! :D
  • Wouldn't it just be easier to make a 6" iphone?

    make a nice cell mount with nfc and Qi, and have iPhone actually get these features?
  • ok

    as long as its optional, I don't want apples shoved down my throat, nor will I downgrade to an IPhone to use its features
  • Editor - glasses please

    Mercedes to upgrade Hondas - Seems a long stretch.

    "Mercedes has confirmed it will offer an "after-market solution by the end of the year", which it speculates could come in the form of a dealer-installed accessory offered for Hondas already on the road."
  • We need a better solution!

    I want a system that allows simple integration of any device into the car. All the current platforms are to limiting.
    • agreed!

      The car I own shouldn't dictate the smartphone I need to own and vise versa.
  • Great - people playing Angry Birds while driving

    I feel safer already...
    • The dashboard actually needs "live tiles"

      To distract the drivers most efficiently.

      I'm joking, of course. But I guess there are some people who believe that "live tiles" are the perfect solution everywhere (i.e. a single UI for ALL purposes).
    • What would you rather them have

      WP 8, and Fart apps?
      I hate trolls also
  • I'm surprised it's legal

    At least here in the UK - ANY contact with a phone whilst driving (even being parked with the engine running is deemed to be 'driving') is against the law. The mere act of pressing the home button to activate Siri will be seen as using the phone, and if you're seen by a copper, then you're up **** creek without a paddle or a leg to stand on.
  • Another way for Apple maps... run safe cars into a ditch.
  • No CarPlay yet...

    Well, just leased a c-class (new model), with all the gizmos (eg Command Online). Guess what? No CarPlay support, Comfort Telephony support doesnt work with iOS7, no OEM craddle for iPH5 (only iPH4, and a lot of Nokias 6xxx), no support for emails, Spotify, and the list might continue. Total dissappointment...

    it feels like having a latest generation macbook air running MacOS Panther...