Aftermarket suppliers tell us they are researching wireless CarPlay and may start development but many don’t expect to offer the feature this year. 2018 may be a more likely target.
One sticking point for bringing CarPlay to market is it requires a WiFi connection for the radio and that has not proven a popular feature in the aftermarket.
Kenwood just discontinued its WiFi radio, the DNN992, now several years old. Many say it failed to gain traction with consumers.
Pioneer’s Ted Cardenas said car makers have had more incentive to include WiFi in cars, because they can use it for generating vehicle maintenance reports. “OEMs have been putting WiFi into their vehicles for the last few years… They have a different justification. Most of them are reporting the status for an oil change and brake pads and things that are warranty and maintenance issues.”
“Up until now, at least in Pioneer’s opinion, there weren’t enough viable features for consumers to pay the cost between non-wireless and wireless (WiFi). I will say wireless CarPlay and Android Auto in the future will provide some justification for that,” he noted.
But he doesn’t expect Pioneer to offer wireless CarPlay during 2017.
Others agreed that wireless CarPlay will put WiFi back on the map, and may even cause the price for WiFi to come down quickly.
At present, a WiFi radio chip costs about $5 to $10, but when you add necessary controllers, antennas and software that’s a $50 to $200 jump in price to consumers.
Both Alpine and Kenwood had no official comment on their wireless CarPlay plans for this year.
Harman said it doesn’t expect a big showing in wireless CarPlay from the aftermarket next year but suspects it will be available in 2018.
Harman’s Glenn Ihrke believes it will be a big feature in the future. “People are looking for a seamless interface. They don’t want to have to think, ‘Oh, I’ve got to plug in my phone.’ They just want to walk in and it automatically switches from handset to car and then from car to handset. That’s a very desireable feature.”
So far, the only car company to announce wireless CarPlay is BMW. It will become available in February in the new BMW 5 Series. But WiFi requires a $2,700 option package on a current 5-Series, so wireless CarPlay may not come cheap.
For that reason, Cardenas believes the aftermarket will not miss out on a large chunk of the market if it doesn’t offer wireless CarPlay until 2018.