Renault Launches Built-In Waze App for France, Interested?

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Waze has become an incredibly popular navigation tool for drivers, growing from just a few thousand users in 2008 – back when it was still called FreeMap Israel and Linqmap – to a whopping 140 million monthly active users spread across 185 countries by 2022. This surging popularity has been attributed primarily to Waze offering features that allowed drivers to share travel details that would be of use to other drivers, pinning things like the location of speed traps, wrecks, and construction, or simply helping the application estimate route times. But it’s only ever been a mobile app that can be mirrored to your dashboard – until now. 

Noting that Waze is the most commonly used driving application in France, Renault has partnered with the company to deliver a dedicated version of the app for its vehicles. 

Since becoming integrated with Google, Waze’s data-sharing features have become the gold standard for automotive navigation. There are privacy issues that have to be discussed, however, as Waze does sell location data to advertisers who can forward users branded promotions any time they drive past a relevant location the app thinks they might visit. Users also have to agree to have their location tracked by the company and that any data collected about their driving (ahem) practices or location can be permanently stored. 

This kind of data harvesting is basically essential for the app to function properly, as most of the helpful features are tied to community-driven information sharing. But concerns have grown since Waze was purchased by Google for $1.3 billion in 2013. In fact, the entire merger was questioned by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Israel Antitrust Authority, and the United Kingdom’s Office of Fair Trading because it was seen as a direct competitor to Google Maps. As the market leader for turn-by-turn navigation, Google’s buyout was criticized for breaking antitrust laws in numerous countries. Though ultimately nothing came of those investigations and the deal was allowed to go ahead. 

Still, if that hadn’t happened, Renault probably wouldn’t be able to offer it as an automotive app today. Waze is now available on infotainment systems via Google integration, meaning you don’t need to do any pairing with your cellular device. Renault said this will be limited to the Austral Hybrid and Megane E-Tech EV, with plans to expand as additional models begin adopting its latest user interface. Customers can reportedly download and install the Waze for OpenR Link directly from Google Play, via their OpenR Link interface in their vehicle, or from their My Renault mobile app.

“Renault is the first car brand to offer Waze directly on the vehicle's multimedia screen, without activating the smartphone,” stated Jérôme Seror, Director of Digital Customer Experience for Renault. “We are convinced that the large number of Waze users will appreciate this new feature when they drive the All-new Austral or the Mégane E-Tech electric. This is clearly in line with our strategy to offer our customers an intuitive, immersive and connected driving."

Obviously, those concerned with corporate data harvesting are going to see this and run in the opposite direction. But a large portion of French drivers will probably appreciate the change, as Waze is presently the most common navigational app used there. Expect to see other automakers integrating similar features into connected cars, especially as it pertains to Waze and Google. Though, considering how easy it is to mirror popular phone apps on modern vehicles (typically via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), one wonders how much additional convenience a built-in version actually provides. Would you want something like this to come to models designated for sale on your market? 

[Image: Renault]

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Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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3 of 5 comments
  • IBx1 IBx1 on Dec 07, 2022

    I don't even want a touchscreen built into my car; my phone is all I need for navigation.

    • Fred Fred on Dec 12, 2022

      Except I'd like a bigger screen for my aging eyes and my phone mount makes controlling the phone kind of iffy.

  • TheEndlessEnigma TheEndlessEnigma on Dec 08, 2022

    With the capability of mapping on phones and phone connectivity into cars, built in navigation is not needed. Waze is also one of the most inaccurate mapping apps, it still has problems with things as simple as one-way streets. Last time I tried using it, about 3 years ago, I was driving in DC. As anyone who has driven in DC knows that city is stuffed full of one-way streets along with the spoke configuration in the central city area. Waze insisted on routing me the wrong way down one way streets treating them as if there were two-way street. A journey that should have been a bit over 3 miles point to point ended up something more than 15 miles and an hour.

  • Socrates77 They're pinching pennies for the investors like always, greed has turned GM into a joke of an old corporate American greed.
  • Analoggrotto looking at this takes me right back to the year when “CD-ROM” first entered public lexicon
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  • El scotto I can get the speedometer from dad's 72 Ford truck back. I can't get dad back.
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