In-Car Tech

Here's what today's Apple Event means for your car

Today Apple unveiled its latest lineup of new products.

Photo courtesy of Apple

Today's Apple Event hits home on many levels for consumers. Literally. The tech giant is aiming to make everyday life easier and more connected for their customers. Connectivity is extending past the iPhone and iMac, and into your home, your car, and your ears.

Earlier this year, Apple announced a host of changes that would effect Apple Maps, Apple CarPlay, and other components. You can read about iOS 14 updates here, Apple Maps upgrades here, and phone-as-key technology here.

How does today's news effect your car? Let's take a closer look at the products Apple debuted and what we know about them.

Apple HomePod Mini

Apple HomePod Mini

Photo courtesy of Apple

In addition to a slew of features that includes acting as synched surround sound speakers and the ability to handoff entertainment from a variety of apps like iHeartRadio, Pandora, and Amazon, Apple HomePods will be able to send suggestions to Apple CarPlay.

The real-life application of the technology may look a little something like this.

Scenario: You call your spouse and ask them if they need anything while you're out. The spouse asks you to swing by the house of a friend of you child's and pick up the Girl Scout cookies you both forgot you ordered. There's only one problem. You don't know where the kid lives.

Apple's Solution: At home, your spouse has their phone and contacts list connected to the HomePod. Said spouse then asks the HomePod to send the address to Apple CarPlay in the family's BMW 5 Series that you're driving. While in the car, using Siri, you tell Apple CarPlay to navigate you to that address.

There's also an intercom function. This means that you can broadcast from one HomePod to a series of others and Apple CarPlay. Think of this as a modern household intercom system that connects all the elements of your household. Think of how much easier it just got to survey your family to see what they want on their pizza.

Perhaps most importantly, Apple will allow customers to opt-out of allowing Apple to store their recordings.

Wireless iPhone charging

Apple iPhone 12

Photo courtesy of Apple

Apple is making wireless charging its primary method of charging for iPhone 12. The company is already working with Belkin on a new accessories line that includes car mounts and multi-charger docks.

In response to real world user experience, and with an eye toward sustainability, Apple has announced that it will no longer include Lightning headphones or power adapters in iPhone boxes. It's the end of an era, really. This is projected to save 2 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually, the equivalent of removing 450,000 cars from the road each year.

What will the iPhone box include. There will now be a USB-C to Lightning cable. That means that if your car only has USB-A (commonly referred to as USB) ports, you'll need to invest in an adapter if you want to plug in your phone to the car. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with wireless charging, are becoming more popular as a new car offering so if you purchase a new car, you may not have to worry about this issue.

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New luxury EV

Lexus announces all-electric RZ 450e

Lexus just announced the new RZ 450e

Lexus

Lexus and Toyota have finally jumped onto the EV train, and we’ll soon see new all-electric SUVs from both. The Lexus variant, named RZ 450e, features a reasonable range, upscale interior, and neat all-wheel drive technology. We don’t have firm pricing for the Lexus, but expect it to start in the mid-to-high $40,000 range.

2023 Lexus RZRange is expected to reach 225 miles per chage. Lexus

The RZ shares a platform and much of its underlying engineering with the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra, but will take a more upscale approach. Though its size and overall shape are similar to the others, the Lexus’ exterior styling is sharper and sportier, with functional aerodynamic bodywork. A new Lexus logo is spelled out on the rear gate, instead of the traditional “L” of previous models.

The SUV comes with a 71.4-kWh battery that should deliver a range of around 225 miles on a charge. All-wheel drive is standard, and uses the RZ’s dual electric motors to shift power between the wheels that need it most.

Inside, the RZ features a minimalist, open space with controls meant to remind drivers of a horse’s reins. Ultrasuede upholstery and woodgrain trim come standard. Lexus notes the RZ’s head-up display is controllable via steering wheel-mounted buttons that handle navigation, audio, and other functions.

2023 Lexus RZThough similar to the Toyota bZ4X inside, the Lexus IS more upscale and minimalist. Lexus

Speaking of the steering wheel, the first RZs will be available with a round wheel only, but later on, Lexus will offer a yoke-style wheel like the one seen in the Toyota bZ4X concept and Tesla’s Plaid models.

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The Emira will be Lotus' last gas-powered car.

Lotus

Automakers of all sizes and shapes are going electric, and tiny British automaker Lotus is no exception. Known for building small, impossibly lightweight cars with amazing handling, Lotus is rolling out one last fossil fuel-burning sports car before its world changes completely.

Lotus EmiraThe Emira will be available with a four- or six-cylinder engine. Lotus

Lotus says the Emira will be its last gas-powered vehicle before its shift to an all-electric lineup. The Emira is available with both a V6 and a twin-turbocharged inline four-cylinder - a version of the world's most powerful four-banger. Orders for the V6 model have far exceeded expectations, and the automaker notes that traffic to its website has grown considerably due to the car's popularity.

Lotus borrowed the engine from AMG, but the power numbers are different than the specs announced in 2019. At that time, Mercedes-AMG noted that the engine could produce up to 416 horsepower, but Lotus is only squeezing 360 ponies out of the inline-four. That said, Lotus' ability to build featherweight performance cars means that 360 horsepower will be plenty to motivate the Emira with enthusiasm. An eight-speed dual-clutch transmission is standard and brings paddle shifters to a Lotus for the first time.

A load of options are available for the car, including seven interior color options, six exterior colors, four options packages, and multiple wheel designs. Though some sports and luxury automakers hold the best options back to charge more, Lotus offers a surprising number of standard features, including 12-way power seats with memory, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 10.25-inch touchscreen, and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster.

Lotus EmiraSeveral colors and options will be available. Lotus

Reservations for the First Edition model open on April 8 for customers in the UK with deliveries starting later in 2022. The Emira First Edition starts at $85,900, while the entry-level four-cylinder model starts at around $79,000. Lotus says more specs and pricing details will be made available this summer.

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