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Italy Fines Google for Excluding the ‘JuicePass' EV Charging App From Android Auto

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【Summary】Italy's competition regulator has fined U.S. tech giant Google 102 million euros (US$123 million) for excluding an e-mobility app developed by energy company Enel from the U.S. tech giant's open Android platform. Google has not allowed Enel's JuicePass smartphone app to operate on Google's Android Auto app for the past two years.

FutureCar Staff    May 14, 2021 7:30 AM PT
Italy Fines Google for Excluding the ‘JuicePass' EV Charging App From Android Auto
The JuicePass app provides drivers with a map of EV charging stations nearby and reserve a charger.

Italy's competition regulator has fined U.S. tech giant Google 102 million euros (US$123 million) for excluding an e-mobility app developed by energy company Enel from the U.S. tech giant's open Android platform. The fine was first reported by Reuters.

For the past two years, Google has not allowed Enel's JuicePass smartphone app to operate on Google's Android Auto app, which is designed as a simple, less distracting way to use Google's popular apps while driving, such as Maps, Play and Assistant. 

Regulators in Italy have accused Google of curtailing use of the JuicePass app and favoring Google Maps, which also includes EV charging station locations for drivers.

"The contested behavior can influence the development of e-mobility in a crucial phase-with possible negative spill-over effects on the growth of electric vehicles (EV)," it said.

In a statement announcing the $123 million fine for "abuse of a dominant position", the regulator asked Google to make JuicePass available on Android Auto.

JuicePass is owned by Enel's "e-solutions" subsidiary Enel X, which brought the case against Google. 

The JuicePass app provides drivers with a map of EV charging stations nearby. It allows drivers to choose a charging type, view details regarding access schedule and charging costs, reserve a connector, and remotely monitor a charging session.

"Google respectfully disagrees with the antitrust regulator's decision and will examine the documents to decide its next steps," a spokesman for Google in Italy said in a statement to Reuters. 

The spokesman told Reuters that Google's priority for Android Auto is to ensure safety while driving, with stringent guidelines on which apps it supports.

"There are thousands of apps compatible with Android Auto, and our goal is to enable even more developers to make their apps available over time," the spokesman said.

steelguru_2021-01_a0b698db-4752-4d7c-b8cb-6c8584d6f824_JuicePass_App_Enel_X.png

Enel X plans to install over 3,000 EV charging points in Italy, Spain and Romania by 2022.

The regulator said the U.S. giant had a dominant position that allows it to control the access of app developers to final users through Android and its Google Play app store, where the apps are downloaded.

Enel acknowledged the decision, saying it was an important enabling factor for the growth of electric mobility in Italy.

"In accordance with this decision, a level playing field with Google apps will be granted for Enel X's app, JuicePass, and in general for all recharging app developers," Italy's competition regulator said.

Google has now expanded the Android Auto app into an embedded vehicle operating system called "Android Automotive OS", which provides access to Google apps directly from a vehicle's infotainment screen. Drivers of vehicles with an embedded version of Android Automotive OS do not need to sync their smartphones to the vehicle.

With Google Maps built-in, features like real-time traffic information for navigation are available from the vehicle's infotainment screen without needing a smartphone. Compatible apps can be downloaded right to the vehicle.

The world's first production vehicle to come with Android Automotive OS built-in is the new Polestar 2 EV from Polestar, the electric-performances brand jointly owned by Volvo Cars and Chinese automaker Geely.


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