In a move that may seem more than a little puzzling to buyers, Lexus plans to launch its all-new UX crossover later this year in Australia without Apple CarPlay.
While the company says it will begin rolling out the technology some time in 2019, it should be noted each of the UX's competitors – namely the Audi Q2, BMW X1 and X2, and the Volvo XC40 – are available with CarPlay as standard kit across the range or, in the case of BMW, in the form of an optional wireless setup.
Lexus’ omission of the popular in-car technology is even more surprising, given the marketing focus for the UX centred on millennials and modern technology at its launch in Sweden.
It’s not that the company doesn’t recognise the importance of the software. They’d love to have it but, according to Paul Williamsen from the international planning division, the delay is due to compliance issues surrounding the merge between Apple and Lexus's operating systems.
“In speaking with our engineers, one of the challenges we have relates to the list of requirements when linking our own infotainment system with that of the operating software from the mobile phone manufacturers," he explained.
“Our corporation has real specific requirements for preventing driver distraction. So there are some things that perhaps other carmakers might let you do while driving, but that we don’t want the driver doing while rolling.
“And for that, it’s surprising to us how tough it is to get a phone OS maker to acknowledge our need for that constraint," he continued.
"Don’t get me wrong, we want the app in the car, but we need to make sure the features available through that Apple CarPlay integration don’t cause driver distraction, because when an accident happens, no one is going to sue the phone maker."
It’s not the easiest pill to swallow, given CarPlay and Android Auto (of which there's no mention by Lexus) is already available on a host of cars in Australia, but early adopters of the UX will certainly miss out.
Moreover, other markets taking the UX (like Canada) are getting CarPlay from the start. At least Australia will also be one of the first territories to get the car...
“Another challenge we have is that these systems have to be different in each continent. I mean, we’ve got specific digital broadcast systems in North America and different ones in Australia and lord knows what they have here in Europe," Williamsen said.
“Again, I’m optimistic there could be something rolling out during the lifecycle of the vehicle, but even more encouraging is that it’s a system-wide thing, when it happens, it will roll out on a bunch of models including the UX."