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Tesla, BMW don't appear to be gearing up to join Apple's new CarPlay vision

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Apple gave a sneak peek of its new CarPlay vision at WWDC 2022 and announced some early partners, but there are a few notable holdouts who have yet to get involved.

During the developer conference keynote, Apple previewed a new generation of CarPlay that brings an entirely new level of customization to a car's infotainment systems, gauges, and more.

The iPhone maker also announced a list of automakers who are "excited to bring this new vision of CarPlay to customers," including many traditional car companies like Honda, Ford, and Mercedes-Benz.

However, BMW was notably absent from the list. And there are other companies, like Tesla, that have never adopted CarPlay.

BMW

BMW has always had a weird relationship with Apple CarPlay. Even before the feature debuted, company executives said that their vehicles wouldn't support the Apple infotainment system.

The company eventually reversed course and offered CarPlay on some select models in 2016. Before it did, it was one of the last major car manufacturers who hadn't released at least one vehicle with support for the system.

The German automaker continued to offer CarPlay as a normal package option to customers until 2019, when it began charging a subscription of $80 a year to use the service.

Just like its slow adoption, BMW stuck out as the only major carmaker to consider such a fee. Customers, as you'd expect, weren't happy. BMW eventually dropped the fee in 2019.

BMW's CarPlay weirdness is even underscored by more recent news, including the fact that it might ship new models without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The automaker blamed the issue on ongoing chip shortages, but it doesn't appear like other automakers have followed suit.

The German firm has been an early adopter of Apple technology, too. It was the first company to announce support for Apple's CarKey system, which will allow users to unlock or start their vehicles with an iPhone.

CarPlay in a BMW
CarPlay in a BMW

All of this is to say that BMW's lack of early involvement could mean that the company is about to repeat its past mistakes with CarPlay.

However, it seems that BMW is — at the very least — not completely against the idea of eventually adopting the upgraded CarPlay. In a statement to The Verge, BMW says it will still need to evaluate how to integrate Apple's announcements.

"Currently, we have placed a clear focus on further enhancing our iDrive user interface system and, as part of this development, will continue the seamless integration of Apple's ecosystem," BMW said. "Integral to these efforts will be an evaluation of how the latest innovations announced at WWDC can be integrated into our solutions."

In other words, BMW was hedging its bets. It isn't an early partner of the new CarPlay, but if history is any indication, it'll probably eventually adopt the next-generation feature down the road.

Tesla

Tesla is not a traditional carmaker, but its weight in the market can rival competitors like Ford or GM. Unlike other automakers, however, Tesla has never supported Apple CarPlay.

Tesla, as a tech company, writes its own software for its in-car infotainment system. That's likely the main reason why it doesn't support CarPlay, Android Auto, or other products made by other tech companies.

The company's stubbornness might just be its undoing. According to statistics published by Apple, 79% of U.S. car buyers wouldn't even consider purchasing a vehicle without CarPlay.

CarPlay is all about a seamless experience for iPhone users. Depending on the time of year, Apple's devices are the dominant smartphones by market share. The company's premium target market overlaps to no small degree with Tesla's, too.

Tesla infotainment system
Tesla infotainment system

Between Tesla cars catching on fire and the outspokenness of the company's CEO, the carmaker should start planning for a future where it's not the only buzzy maker of electric vehicles.

Most other automakers are planning to release electric vehicles that could compete much more closely with Tesla. Looking back at the Apple-provided statistic, CarPlay adoption could be a boon for Tesla demand when its uniqueness starts to wane.

Users will likely to be happier as well. Apple and Google ecosystems have the benefit of having millions of developers — a luxury Tesla doesn't have and likely never will. With CarPlay, Tesla drivers would instantly get access to a slew of new audio, messaging, and streaming apps.

Whether Tesla is going to change its mind about CarPlay remains to be seen. But, from an outside view, it seems like doing so would be a good idea.