Google Maps Losing Ground As Rivals Win the Hearts of More Carmakers

Google Maps rivals expanding in the automotive space 15 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/TomTom/HERE
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The battle in the navigation space keeps getting fiercer, not only because new players have joined the industry but also as a result of the existing companies investing big in new-generation features.
Google's efforts to expand beyond the mobile screen face increased competition from navigation specialists like HERE and TomTom, both of which attended this year's CES with big announcements.

HERE and TomTom formed new partnerships with carmakers, consolidating their presence in the automotive industry and becoming more relevant in the software wars.

Google Maps is, therefore, losing ground, remaining an essential component of the Android Auto and Android Automotive offerings.

HERE and Lotus

2024 Lotus Emeya
Photo: Lotus
One of the partnerships that gives HERE a significant lead over Google when it comes to solutions embedded into the car is with Lotus.

The two companies have worked on providing Lotus models with HERE's navigation capabilities, so the CES 2024 announcement is specifically aimed at the latest car to benefit from the project.

Lotus Emeya, the fully electric model, will offer HERE Navigation integration, along with a series of extras, such as the integrated EV Range Assistant and Predictive Routing.

HERE's navigation package includes not only the classic turn-by-turn directions but also must-have modern features, such as real-time traffic information, voice guidance, and up-to-date maps. With an Internet connection, HERE's software also offers capabilities such as an online search for points of interest.

Lotus Emeya drivers will also get access to HERE capabilities specifically aimed at EVs, including Range Assistant. The software can search for charging points and display the range on the map and the range on the route.

Additionally, when drivers search for a new destination, HERE Navigation takes more factors into account, including road topography and geometry, real-time traffic, and historical data. The goal is to look for more efficient routes, allowing drivers to reach their destinations with an improved range.

Predictive Routing relies on AI to learn driving patterns, such as departure times and destinations. Eventually, the systems can predict when and how you drive, offering alternative routes to improve the battery range.

HERE also provides Lotus access to the HERE SDK, meaning its software can be integrated into the Hyper OS mobile application. Drivers can use their smartphones to plan routes at home and transfer them to the infotainment screen when getting behind the wheel.

TomTom and Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi will launch the 2024 Minivan EV in December
Photo: Mitsubishi Motors
TomTom, one of the biggest names in the navigation space, joined forces with Mitsubishi Electric for the integration of HD Map into the High-Definition Locator hardware.

TomTom will be in charge of the data required for automated driving, allowing Mitsubishi's vehicles to "generate accurate information on its position and road data."

If you're not familiar with TomTom's HD Map, it's an advanced pack of solutions whose role is to collect information that helps a vehicle anticipate what happens on the road. It collects data from vehicle sensors, cameras, and GPS probes, processing all information to make every route more predictable.

You can imagine why the integration is such an important piece of the self-driving puzzle, though TomTom emphasizes HD Map can also power most advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) applications.

Google's response

Mitsubishi will launch the 2024 Minivan EV in December
Photo: Mitsubishi Motors
The most advanced Google Maps integration into a vehicle is available via Android Automotive, where the application can access more information and provide optimized routes and automatic charging stops based on the battery range.

Google Maps for Android Automotive reads battery information and automatically configures the route to include charging stops when the existing range is below what the vehicle needs to reach a configured destination.

Google is also improving Google Maps on the mobile front. The company announced in late 2023 that Google Maps would get Immersive View for routes, a feature that combines satellite imagery, street-level photos, traffic information, and weather data into a multi-dimensional world simulation.

The feature's purpose is to allow a driver to get familiar with a route before they begin the journey, as the simulation enables them to explore every turn with realistic details. Eventually, Google Maps can make every route more predictable.

TomTom and HERE also became more committed to their mobile applications, offering capabilities similar to the ones bundled with Google Maps, including offline maps. However, their main focus remains automotive integration, and the partnerships announced at CES are living proof that not all carmakers are big fans of adopting Android Automotive and GAS.

Meanwhile, long-time Google rival Apple is also getting for deeper integration of its services into new-generation vehicles with CarPlay 2.0. Already confirmed to land in Porsche and Aston Martin models, the new CarPlay will also offer new-generation capabilities, though the entire feature lineup is still a mystery. It will use all displays on the dashboard and show navigation on the instrument cluster, along with widgets on the main screen. The experience will be similar to other Apple devices, as the iPhone maker plans to create more consistency for customers committed to its ecosystem.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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