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Waze Finally Gets In-Car Integration, but Most American Drivers Will Have to Wait

Owners of two new Renault models will have Waze's navigation system built-in to their vehicles and usable without a phone.

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Photo: Waze

That annoying friend who’s constantly telling you how superior Waze is over your crappy navigation app during road trips may soon have to put their money where their mouth is. For the first time, the Google-owned social navigation app is getting its own dedicated in-car app, though it will only work with two new Renault cars for now.

Waze announced the new feature in a blog post Tuesday, saying the built-in app, which will run through Google Built-In, would let users take advantage of Waze’s real time routine, navigation, and alerts without the need for a phone. While many cars could already sync up Waze from a phone app, this new feature is built directly into the vehicles, which Waze argues could lead to, “safer and more convenient journeys.” The integration will be available in Renault Austral Hybrid and Megane E-Tech electric vehicles. If those models sound somewhat unfamiliar, it’s because they are only really available in Europe.

“As more Waze users engage with us on in-car platforms and we see advancements in in-car technologies, it’s important that we bring the best driving experiences to our users, which is why we are thrilled to announce our partnership with Renault,” Waze Director of Marketing and Partnerships Aron Di Castro said in a statement. “Having Waze’s real-time navigation, routing and alerts built into the display of Renault’s vehicles, makes for a simplified and seamless driving experience.”

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In addition to Waze, the Renault vehicles can also integrate with Google Maps, Google Assistant, Google Play, and other Alphabet services. That voice control element will let users control certain car settings, like the temperature, all hands free. Other non-Alphabet apps like Spotify are also reportedly included in Renault’s multimedia system. 

The Waze integration is part of a larger trend of tech companies racing to turn commuters’ vehicles into viable screen time. While internet connectivity and app integration in vehicles was a relative rarity just ten years ago, it’s poised to become near ubiquitous in coming years. By 2026, according to an Insider Intelligence estimate, 72.3% of licensed U.S. drivers are expected to drive a connected car. That’s up from 52% of licensed drivers in 2022. All of that time spent listening and interacting with devices could prove invaluable for advertisers and other marketers looking to cash in on the hours many drivers spend behind the wheel every week.