March 14, 2016
INRIX, a Seattle-based company that offers connected car solutions, just purchased OpenCar, which describes itself as an “updateable application platform and developer ecosystem” for the auto industry. With both solutions on board, INRIX can compete head-on with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both aimed at auto manufacturers interested in integrating smartphone functionality in their vehicles. Ford, Volvo and BMW have confirmed they will integrate Apple and Google’s solutions into new models of their vehicles.
Fortune describes why “OpenCar’s framework could provide a welcome alternative.” First, OpenCar is an “in-car app ecosystem,” meaning it does not need to connect to a smartphone to function. OpenCar is controlled by the car manufacturer, which is free to create custom voice and touch interfaces for different brands and models as well as “tweak the platform’s design.”
“We’re excited to see additional competition in this important connected car segment,” said Audi’s Marcus Keith, who heads up human-machine interface development. “The combination of INRIX and OpenCar should be very compelling for bringing new applications.”
According to Bryan Mistele, president and CEO of INRIX, more than half of today’s connected vehicles use INRIX services (noted in the company press release). “By 2020, more than a quarter billion connected cars will be on the road,” he said.
INRIX’s cloud-based driver-assistance platform — dubbed Autotelligent — offers real-time traffic data that enables predictive routing. Autotelligent can create daily, personalized itineraries by accessing the user’s calendar, and provides a multitude of drive time alerts. Road weather alerts, public transit routes and dynamic on-and-off street parking is also part of the platform.
Autotelligent and OpenCar can work together if desired. Fortune suggests that, “an automaker could make OpenCar’s platform standard in all cars or add the Inrix driver-assistance system to just luxury models.” Although OpenCar isn’t yet available, Mazda has supported it through a strategic partnership for the last five years and Audi has publicly endorsed it. OpenCar continues to work with content partners including Nuance, WCities, Glympse, iHeart, NPR, Gas Buddy, Rivet Radio, Stitcher and Dash.