GM Shifts Gear: Replacing Apple CarPlay

GM CarPlay

An in-depth Bloomberg report today resurfaced General Motors’ decision to replace Apple CarPlay with its own software. Last year, GM announced that it planned to forgo Apple CarPlay in its new electric vehicles, starting with the 2024 Chevrolet Blazer EV. Instead, the automaker introduced a proprietary infotainment platform, aiming to control and customize the digital experience within its vehicles.

Challenges and Concerns

This transition is part of GM’s strategic pivot toward enhancing its software capabilities and establishing a stronger digital services revenue stream. However, the change has not been without its hurdles, with numerous customers and automotive reviewers reporting technical issues and a steep learning curve associated with the new system.

CarPlay vs. GM Ultifi

CarPlay has become a staple of most new vehicles, offering drivers a familiar interface that mirrors their iPhone’s functionality onto the vehicle’s dashboard. Apple reported in 2022 that 79% of car buyers in the U.S. insisted on CarPlay support when considering a new vehicle purchase. GM’s new in-house system, Ultifi, is envisioned as a comprehensive digital platform that offers a range of services such as navigation and media streaming, enhanced by subscription-based add-ons to drive revenue. Despite these aspirations, the rollout of Ultifi has encountered significant obstacles such as software malfunctions that dealerships have struggled to resolve.

Car Dashboard

Implications and Future Outlook

GM’s move is driven by a wish to reclaim customer connections and data insights from third parties, but customer resistance to abandoning a familiar and popular system like CarPlay that directly integrates with their iPhone poses a significant challenge to GM’s strategy. The outcome of GM’s decision could influence future industry practices significantly. If GM can refine Ultifi into a robust, user-friendly platform that rivals or surpasses CarPlay’s functionality, it may set a precedent for other automakers to follow suit. Conversely, if consumers continue to prefer established systems like CarPlay, automakers may find themselves in a difficult position, needing to balance their corporate interests with consumer preferences.

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