While Volvo’s overall infotainment systems are widely hailed as some of the best out there, its navigation system, specifically, is known to be crap. But Volvo wants to remedy that. So now, if you can get one, your next Volvo will have Google Maps instead.
That really is like going from the bottom to the top in one fell swoop.
Being in a Volvo these days is a joy. Your behind is swaddled on the most sumptuous leather, your hands fall on little bits of milled aluminum and even crystal, and your ears are sublimely, violently assaulted by the joy that is the Gothenburg Concert Hall sound setting. Everything is lovely, everything is perfect, except for PilotAssist and that dastardly navigation system. I’m sure Volvo is working on PilotAssist because it has to be, but a navigation system is possibly an even bigger problem. Self-driving cars are a ways off, if they ever get here. No one outside of the most insufferable tech bro is demanding the technology right here, right now.
But a competent navigation system that doesn’t make you drive through 18 of Dante’s nine circles of hell when a shorter, faster, easier route already exists?
That’s what people care about, but building an entirely new navigation system from scratch is a nightmare. If you don’t believe me, ask Apple. Despite having essentially infinite money, Apple Maps is still very much a work in progress.
If you can’t beat them, then, join them. Google Maps, by virtue of Google’s massive headstart and just-as-unlimited funds, is definitively the best mapping and navigation system out there. So Volvo’s going with that, which is much better than what Audi has done, by mystifyingly going with Google Earth. A big impetus is that Volvo’s already-cromulent infotainment system is going to be based on Android in a couple of years, according to a Volvo press release:
Google Maps will also enable the next generation of Sensus to provide refreshed map and traffic data in real time, keeping drivers informed about upcoming traffic situations and proactively suggesting alternative routes.
Today’s announcement builds on the strategic relationship between Volvo Cars and Google, when Volvo Cars last year announced the new generation of its infotainment system will be based on Google’s Android platform. The first Android-based system will launch in a couple of years from now.
The cars will also have Google Assistant, which, meh. Who cares.