Italian Antitrust Watchdog Fines Google $123 Million USD for Blocking EV App From Android Auto

Italy’s antitrust watchdog has fined Google $123 million USD for blocking an EV app from Android Auto.

According to a new TechCrunch report, Italy’s antitrust authority, AGCM, said Google abused its dominant market position by not allowing the JuicePass app to operate on Android Auto.

The competition regulator said that the tech giant abused its dominant market position by not allowing an app from Enel X onto its Android Auto platform.

Android Auto is a system developed by Google that mirrors the features of an Android device on a car’s dashboard display. It allows certain apps to be used while a person is driving, in compliance with safety requirements.

“According to the Authority’s findings, Google did not allow Enel X Italia to develop a version of its JuicePass app compatible with Android Auto, a specific Android feature that allows apps to be used while the user is driving in compliance with safety, as well as distraction reduction, requirements,” the AGCM writes in a press release.

For more than two years, Enel X’s JuicePass app has not been allowed on Android Auto. The app from the Italian company — which is a subsidiary of energy provider Enel — offers services related to recharging electric vehicles, such as finding the nearest charging station and reserving a space there.

Italy’s antitrust authority said that by refusing to make JuicePass available on Android Auto, Google had “limited the possibilities” for users to use the Enel X app when they are driving an electric vehicle and need to recharge.

“By refusing Enel X Italia interoperability with Android Auto, Google has unfairly limited the possibilities for end users to avail themselves of the Enel X Italia app when driving and recharging an electric vehicle,” the press release continues. “Google has consequently favored its own Google Maps app, which runs on Android Auto and enables functional services for electric vehicle charging, currently limited to finding and getting directions to reach charging points, but which in the future could include other functionalities such as reservation and payment.”

The antitrust body claimed that if JuicePass remains excluded from Android Auto, it could “definitively compromise” the possibility for Enel X to build a solid user base at a time when there is a growth in sales of electric vehicles, and have a negative impact on consumer choice.

In response, Google said it disagrees with the authority’s decision and will review its options.

“The number one priority for Android Auto is to ensure apps can be used safely while driving. That’s why we have strict guidelines on the types of apps which are currently supported and these are based on driver-distraction tests and regulatory and industry standards,” the company said in a statement.

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