Mercedes-Benz CEO Vows to Keep Control of Infotainment Systems, Resisting Tech Giants


Ola Källenius: Mercedes-Benz Will Retain Autonomy Over In-Car Technology

In a recent interview with The Verge's Nilay Patel on the Decoder podcast, Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius shared his vision for the future of the company's infotainment systems. As cars become increasingly computerized, with screens dominating dashboards and controlling various functions, Källenius emphasized the importance of Mercedes-Benz retaining control over its own infotainment technology.

Källenius views the Mercedes-Benz operating system as the central nervous system of the vehicle, and he believes that only the manufacturer can effectively tie all the components together to create a superior customer experience. While tech giants like Apple and Google have expressed interest in expanding their presence in the automotive industry, Källenius argues that they are not prepared to take on the full responsibility of managing every aspect of a vehicle's technology.

However, this stance does not preclude collaboration with tech companies. Mercedes-Benz will continue to support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing customers to switch between the car's native system and their preferred smartphone interface. The company is also partnering with Google on future mapping systems for its infotainment platforms.

To entice users away from relying solely on their smartphones, Mercedes-Benz is investing in larger, more advanced screens like the "Hyperscreen" found in newer models. Källenius compares this to the preference for watching movies on a big-screen TV at home rather than on a phone in an airport.

Looking ahead, Källenius sees artificial intelligence assistants like ChatGPT playing an increasingly important role in the automotive industry. Mercedes-Benz has already begun integrating ChatGPT into select vehicles through a beta program and plans to continue developing its own virtual assistant. While acknowledging that AI is not yet perfect, Källenius believes it has the potential to offer unprecedented convenience to customers, such as providing detailed information about destinations and restaurants.

As the automotive industry evolves, the focus has shifted from traditional mechanical features to cutting-edge software and screens. Källenius has made it clear that Mercedes-Benz is committed to staying at the forefront of this computational automotive era, prioritizing the development of its own infotainment systems while strategically collaborating with tech companies when it makes sense for both parties.