Bottom line: Google is partnering with the largest automotive alliance in the world to make Android the brains behind over 10 million vehicles. This gives Google a major advantage over Apple while making the infotainment experience more familiar to users.
Google is partnering with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, the world's largest automotive alliance, to make Android the operating system powering the entertainment and navigation in vehicles starting in 2021. This includes integration with the Google Play Store to download applications as well as Google Assistant for hands-free operation.
Google has been pushing heavily to make Android the operating system of choice for automakers, however, those same automakers have often pushed back due to Google's need for customer data. Despite that concern, some automakers such as Honda, Volvo, and Audi, have embraced Google's services with Honda's current lineup, in particular, already using Android (albeit dated). Volvo is planning to integrate the Google Assistant and Google Maps natively into their Sensus infotainment system by 2020.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Kal Mos, the alliance's VP of connected vehicles, is keenly aware of the reluctance to use Google's services but notes that most customers are already used to Google's software and feel more comfortable using them over systems created by the automakers themselves.
The alliance sold about 10.6 million vehicles worldwide in 2017 alone and is on track to deliver similar numbers this year. Although the partnership won't bear any fruit until 2021, adding Android to 10 million cars adds much more credence to Android as a primary operating system and demonstrates just how flexible Google's OS is.
The terms of the partnership have yet to be revealed although the WSJ says that while Google "will have access to the data generated by its in-car apps, [Google] must get the customer’s permission first before collecting it". Given Android's problem with fragmentation on smartphones that are only owned for a couple of years, it's unknown how Android will stay updated on vehicles that are owned for far longer.