Apple Inc wants you to start buying gas directly from your car dashboard at the beginning of this fall, when a new version of its CarPlay software starts rolling out, speeding up company pressure to turn your car into a goods and services store.
A new feature unveiled at Apple’s developer conference this month will allow CarPlay users to click the app to go to the tap and buy gas directly on the car screen, skipping the usual process of inserting or tapping a credit card. Apple demo details for developers have not been reported before.
But HF Sinclair in Dallas, which sells its fuel to 1,600 stations in the United States, has told Reuters it plans to use CarPlay’s new technology and will announce details in the coming months.
“We are excited about the idea that consumers can roam the Sinclair station and buy fuel on their car’s navigation screen,” said Jack Barger, the company’s vice president of marketing.
Fuel apps are the latest in Apple’s ongoing push to make it possible to tap purchases on the navigation screen. It has already opened CarPlay in applications for parking, charging an electric car and ordering food, and adding driving activity applications such as cutting miles for business trips.
Petrol is a huge expense for car owners. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates in April that the average U.S. family will spend about $ 2,945 on fuel by 2022, or about $ 455 more than last year.
Apple does not currently charge car makers, developers or CarPlay users; Business interest puts Apple at the forefront as cars transform into mobile computers, said Horace Dediu, an Asymco analyst and founder of Micromobility Industries. The new feature will hit hundreds of car models already compatible with CarPlay when Apple releases software updates this fall.
“Forget about Apple Car – Apple CarPlay is a big deal,” Dediu said. “It could probably reach millions and millions of cars, if not hundreds of millions.”
To use the new CarPlay feature this fall, iPhone users will need to download the fuel company app to their phone and enter payment details to set up the app. After the app is set up, users will be able to tap their navigation screen to turn on the pump and pay.
“It’s a huge market place, and consumers really want to get rid of disputes over payments,” said Donald Frieden, chief executive of Houston-based P97 Networks, making digital pipelines that will be used by many petrol companies to connect their applications to cars.
Frieden said he has received calls from oil companies that are interested in making their applications work with CarPlay. BP, Shell and Chevron Corp did not respond to comment requests regarding whether they plan to upgrade their iPhone apps with CarPlay.
Apple’s latest move is likely to escalate tensions with car manufacturers who have commercial interests in the car.
For example, car manufacturers have tried – and failed – to advertise the purchase of gasoline in a car before. General Motors Co unveiled a plan to do so in 2017, but shut it down earlier this year “because the supplier is out of business,” GM told Reuters in a statement.
In addition to petrol apps and other purchases, Apple also wants to expand CarPlay to continue with car driving systems by accessing speed and fuel gauge data.
But car makers are likely to offer that data to Apple without making their demands negotiated by analysts who believe it may have already begun.
Speaking at a Reuters Automotive Europe conference in Munich on Wednesday, Mercedes Benz chief executive Ola Kaellenius said the company’s mission was to “have a complete, complete, comprehensive knowledge of Mercedes.”
Kallenius said Mercedes would not want to re-launch all versions of the app, but would say “if we work with companies in this digital space … anything and everything that goes against product credit, we will be very careful.”