Google has announced a major automotive partnership as it doubles down on efforts to make Android the driving force behind car infotainment systems.

The internet giant has teamed up with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, which, as its name suggests, constitutes a triumvirate of car manufacturers from France and Japan. Together, the brands sold 10.6 million vehicles in 2017, which amounts to one in nine passenger cars sold globally.

Android in cars

Google first revealed plans to build an Android-based infotainment system directly into cars last year, with Volvo and Audi among its inaugural partners. It’s worth noting here that this is a completely separate proposition from Android Auto, which is a way for compatible cars to leverage Android via the driver’s mobile phone.

With this new initiative, Android is built directly into the car’s infotainment system, which should ensure a smoother and more integrated experience. This means that Google Maps, the company‘s virtual voice-activated Google Assistant, and the Google Play Store will all be accessible through the car. This will include turn-by-turn navigation and voice-controllable access to calls, messages, and music, among other features.

“Our partnership with Google will offer owners of our vehicles rich user experiences that are currently available only outside the vehicle or, to a limited extent, by connecting an Android device to supported vehicles,” said Hadi Zablit, senior vice president of business development at Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, in a press release. “We are building powerful connected and seamless on-board/off-board experiences into our vehicles, in addition to the features of Google applications and services that many users are accustomed to.”

While Volvo and Audi last year committed to having Android vehicles on the road within a couple of years — meaning sometime in 2019 — Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi have slated 2021 as their target for the first Android vehicles to roll off the assembly line.

Voice

It is also worth highlighting the increasing role voice assistants are playing in the automotive realm. As the likes of Google, Amazon, and Apple battle to secure control of the smart home with a growing range of smart connected devices, the same is now happening in cars. While Amazon’s Alexa was already available in some cars, last month the company launched the Auto SDK to bring Alexa into even more vehicles.

As part of the built-in operating system in millions of cars globally, Google Assistant is about to become far more prevalent wherever you roam.

“In the future, the Google Assistant, which employs Google’s leading AI technology, can become the main way customers interact with their vehicles, hands-free,” added Kal Mos, global vice president of Alliance connected vehicles at Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi. “With Google Maps and the Google Assistant embedded in Alliance infotainment systems, our customers will have some of the most advanced AI-based applications at their fingertips. And with in-vehicle access to the Google Play Store, our customers will enjoy an open and secure ecosystem of Android apps engineered for vehicles.”