While we recently confirmed that Mercedes-Benz is planning to have an aftermarket CarPlay solution for older vehicles out by the end of the year, some of Apple’s other partners aren’t as confident. The two other companies that have so far announced the feature for new vehicles— Ferrari and Volvo— are both hinting that aftermarket CarPlay solutions are probably not happening anytime soon.

We reached out to Volvo about its aftermarket CarPlay strategy and the company told us there are “major roadblocks” to overcome before it commits to any plans for older vehicles:

We have not announced any plans for an aftermarket solution for Apple CarPlay. While I cannot reveal any potential future products, I can say that there are major roadblocks for this, both from a technical as well as from a usability point-of-view.

While Mercedes-Benz seemed pretty confident that it would be possible, and there are no clues that Apple is preventing it from happening, it sounds a lot like aftermarket solutions aren’t a sure thing for all CarPlay partners.

Ferrari flat out confirmed that CarPlay will NOT come to its older vehicles in a statement to AppleToolbox today:

The new system CarPlay is available only on new range cars and cannot be installed on older ones. However, since we know that infotainment solutions are really important for our customers and also owners of older vehicles deserve the same care as all other customers, we developed an AfterMarket product aimed at offering last generation infotainment, completely compatible with most recent phones. This new product is already available for F430, 355 and 360 Modena, while in the next few months it will be offered also for 599, 612 Scaglietti and first versions of California.

What roadblocks could Volvo be referring to? When it comes to a usability point-of-view: The newer vehicles are being designed specifically around the CarPlay system. That means physical buttons and dials on the dash and steering wheel of new vehicles have been specifically customized to provide an easy-to-use experience with CarPlay. The touch displays being used are also specifically optimized for the experience. Due to this, an aftermarket solution is more involved and likely much more expensive than a traditional in-car infotainment system.

A Volvo representative we spoke to told us a little more about the difficulties with creating an aftermarket solution:

It is of course an area we understand there is a lot of interest in, and we have had many internal discussions on if/how we could bring this to market for existing cars. However, apart from the purely technical aspects, we are primarily concerned with the total, integrated user experience. Being a human-centric brand, we would only consider a solution if it is intuitive and easy-to-use

After Apple officially took the wraps off CarPlay, its new iOS feature that displays core iOS apps on in-car displays of select vehicles, only the three companies mentioned above announced when the feature would come to new vehicles. While iOS 7.1 officially flipped on the switch for the feature on the user end, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, and Volvo won’t bring out new vehicles with the feature until sometime later this year. You can also expect an announcement soon from Toyota after the company briefly leaked plans yesterday to bring out the feature by 2015. Apple has previously confirmed other partners as well that have yet to announce availability, including: BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Nissan, Subaru, and Suzuki.

Earlier this month Mercedes confirmed to us that it is planning an aftermarket solution by the end of the year but didn’t provide any other detail on pricing or availability.

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7 Responses to “Aftermarket CarPlay solutions? Not so fast says Volvo & Ferrari”

  1. Tim Jr. says:

    Luckily, their are the Pioneers and other 3rd party radio manufacturers in the world who will have aftermarket solutions. Plus, I doubt I could ever afford one of their vehicles anyway.


  2. driverbenji says:

    as Tim says, there are plenty of 3rd party manufacturers that make touchscreen head units that work in many cars, these could EASILY add carplay, these automakers saying there is something special about the touchscreens and steering wheel buttons in their new cars are blowing smoke. There is no reason Pioneer, Kenwood, JVC and others cannot make replacements for older cars that include carplay. I will note that Toyota has been making their most recently designed models mostly around a 6″ touchscreen that seems to be a standard double din size under the dash.

    Personally I would like to see carmakers move back to using a standard head unit that can easily be replaced with something made by 3rd party electronics makers. Perhaps a couple new standard “din3″ & “din4″ with some standard touchscreen sizes. It’s impossible for carmakers to keep up with electronics when car designs are re-used for 4-6 years, with only minor changes every 1-2 years.


    • Jordan Kahn says:

      This is kind of a different discussion/argument. Sure there COULD be a third-party market, but it would be up to Apple and the car companies to open that up and there is no indication that is part of Apple’s strategy.

      I’d imagine, like its MFi programs, there are a lot of difficulties in meeting Apple’s strict requirements behind the scenes. Depending on the implementation of the in-car system that any given car maker decides to go with, the price trade-off with meeting those requirements for an aftermarket solution just might not be worth it. For example, perhaps Mercedes’ units, which are essentially a display stuck onto the dash opposed to built-into the dash will make it easier to offer aftermarket.


    • Ben Anderson says:

      The problem with third party stereos in cars such as this, especially in Europe where even the most insane of high technology is available right at the low end, is that you would loose the ability to control many of the car’s functions.

      My mum recently got a new Nissan Qashqai. With a third party system would she be able to control and configure the autonomous parking, blind spot warning, radar system etc. etc.?

      Quick answer is no. She would loose the ability to interact with the onboard computer. She’d also loose the Google integration which is far superior and all the little extras Nissan throw in like POIs and such.

      Besides, modern cars can interact with smart phones just fine. I recently purchased a Kia Pro_Cee’d GT Tech. Even if CarPlay was included as standard in my car, what would CarPlay actually offer me over the built in infotainment system?

      I get 7 years of full European mapping, I get full bluetooth integration with voice recognition that can both speak to me and have me dictate to it, I can stream my music from the phone including any internet radio on the device, I can play FM, AM and DAB radio broadcasts, I can configure in car settings and have an interface that matches the design ethos of the cabin.

      As we’ve seen from all the other manufacturer demos, CarPlay will not replace the standard in-car interface. Its an extra titbit that runs on top of the standard software (Mercedes is the best example).

      So unless CarPlay, IDK, makes me a delicious bacon sandwich whilst I’m on my way to work in the morning, I have absolutely zero idea of what CarPlay is actually supposed to achieve. Hell, having CarPlay as the standard interface would remove one of the key marketing elements from the manufacturer.

      Its a Gimmick, IMHO. It’ll have an Apple logo on it and manufacturers will exploit that fact for extra coin.

      Could someone tell me what it actually does better over the standard system, please? I’d love to know.


      • Its just the start. The plus of apple is a step by step approach… GOOGLE??? all they will focus is ads in the car. thats all they want.. and its much much crappier actually. the iOS on the other hand has a seamless integration. Android relies on JAVA which relies on the JVM or the DVM which in turn relies on the machines wrapper and that relies on the hardware. iOS is the OS that directly relies on the hardware. the plus is that at least your car will be safe from the attacking malware.. which Android systems are far superior in welcoming.. Lest you want your car to go out of control on the highway by a malicious attack.


      • Ben Anderson says:

        That is one of the single most misinformed comments I have ever read, its laughable if I’m honest.

        I said Google services, not a Google OS, such as the POI system already embedded in Nissans. Google Maps or Nokia Maps would be preferable to Apple Maps.

        Advertisements could not be displayed in a car. Its a distraction. It’s illegal.

        CarPlay is an “App” that already run’s on top of the standard car’s interface as we have already seen, it is not the operating system for the Infotainment system. It will rely on a virtual machine or API wrapper just like Java. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if it used Java itself, given how portable the code is and how vastly different each car system’s hardware will be.

        It is an embedded car infotainment system. Malware is not possible because it is firmware based with no ties to the internet. If your phone has Malware, it will not get transferred to the in car system, it is far too closed for that. That is like saying malware in Windows will effect the BIOS; it wont and it can’t.

        Lastly, you think the Infotainment system is connected to the safety systems and engine control unit? You honestly believe that if the Infotainment system was to crash, your car would veer out of control???? That is completely idiotic and you clearly know nothing about cars! Infotainment, Safety, Diagnostics, Engine Control et al. are all independent systems. There are several computers inside a car, not one.


  3. John Cox says:

    As Volvo owner, the way my 2012 C30 interior is laid out, it is hard for me to see where they would install a touchscreen. The climate control and radio inputs are part of the Volvo “waterfall” and there is not a lot of room to add additional items in this area. The only thing that would make since to me (touchscreen attached to an mount somewhere in the waterfall area) would, in my opinion, destroy the simplistic design the car. The way the car interact with my iPhone 4S would leave me to believe that unless Volvo completely rewrites the cars current software, the CarPlay would have limited capabilities and not worth it for older models.