Android Automotive might just be the most exciting thing going in the world of Android. Not to be confused with the older Android Auto, Automotive is a ground-up open source operating system for managing a car’s entire interaction with the driver. We’ve seen a lot of commitments from manufacturers like Chevy and Ford, but so far few production vehicles are ready to roll with Android Automotive. French manufacturer Renault might just get the next one out: its new all-electric Mégane E-Tech crossover.
The Mégane E-Tech is the company’s bigger, beefier, electrified take on the popular crossover (or subcompact SUV, depending on whom you ask), the first of its kind based on a new dedicated CMF-EV platform. That’s not the only barrier it’s breaking: according to 9to5Google, it’s also the first production car equipped with Android Automotive that’s running on the same ARM architecture as Android phones and tablets. Whereas previous designs like Polestar 2 are running on Intel Atom hardware, the Megane E-Tech is packed with a Qualcomm Snapdragon Automotive third-gen system-on-a-chip. (Oddly, it’ll be a generation behind the system announced earlier this year.)
That hardware powers some impressive interaction. In addition to the primary 12.3-inch dashboard screen, there’s a 9- or 12-inch multimedia screen in the middle for managing multimedia and general settings like air conditioning or interior lighting. Android Automotive allows the user to download apps directly to the car’s operating system, for managing music, navigation, electric tracking, et cetera. While it’s built on Android and Google Assistant, iOS users can still plug in their iPhones to access Apple CarPlay.
The Megane E-Tech has a range of up to 292 miles (470 kilometers) on its upgraded 60 kWh battery system. It’s now available for pre-order, with the first cars expected to reach European buyers in February 2022.