Apple CarPlay could be a trojan horse into the automotive industry

Apple is using the iPhone’s popularity to push itself into the auto industry. Automakers are a little unsure how they feel about this.

Apple announced the next generation of its car software CarPlay in June. It takes over the user interface on all interior screens, replacing gas gauges and speed dials with a digital version powered by the driver’s iPhone. It suggested CarPlay helps automakers sell vehicles.

Apple engineering manager Emily Schubert said 98% of new cars in the U.S. come with CarPlay installed. She delivered a shocking stat: 79% of U.S. buyers would only buy a car if it supported CarPlay.

“It’s a must-have feature when shopping for a new vehicle,” Schubert said during a presentation of the new features.

The auto industry faces an unappealing choice: Offer CarPlay and give up potential revenue and the chance to ride a major industry shift, or spend heavily to develop their own infotainment software and cater to an potentially shrinking audience of car buyers who will purchase a new vehicle without CarPlay.

Apple wants a seat at the table

Carmakers sell additional services and features to vehicle owners on a regular, recurring basis as cars connect to the internet, gain self-driving features, and move from being powered by gasoline to powered by electricity and batteries.

The car software market will grow 9% per year through 2030, faster than the overall auto industry, according to a McKinsey report. Car software could account for $50 billion in sales by 2030, McKinsey analysts predict.

Apple wants a piece of the pie.

GM, which wasn’t listed on Apple’s slide, already gets revenue of $2 billion per year from in-car subscriptions and expects it to grow to $25 billion per year by 2030. Tesla, which doesn’t support CarPlay, recently shifted into selling its “FSD” driver-assistance features, including auto-parking and lane-keeping, as a subscription that costs as much $199 per month.

Automakers in China are starting to create electric vehicles that integrate deeply with their apps, allowing drivers to get repairs, connect with other owners, or even get their rented batteries replaced.

“We believe this could eventually lead to Apple providing services leveraging car sensor…