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Honda Touts Silicon Valley Chops, Debuts 2016 Accord With CarPlay and Android Auto

The company also announced Honda Xcelerator -- a new incubator program at its Silicon Valley office.

Ina Fried, Re/code

Highlighting the growing importance of Silicon Valley to the car industry, Honda on Thursday debuted the 2016 Accord at its research facility in Mountain View.

Typically, car makers use an auto show or other industry event to showcase new models, but Honda said it wanted to unveil it in the Bay Area to highlight the role the Valley is playing in the auto world as well as the fact that the redesigned sedan is the first Honda model to include Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay.

These days, car makers are spending a lot of time here. Nearly all the major manufacturers have some sort of technology office in the San Francisco Bay Area. And Silicon Valley is now a frequent stop for top executives from Detroit, Japan and Germany.

“All of our competitors are touting their operations here, and that is a good thing,” said Frank Paluch, president of Honda R&D Americas, noting that the future of cars will involve both cooperating as an industry as well as intense competition.

Honda has taken a somewhat different approach to integrating mobile technology with its cars. While other car makers have invested heavily in proprietary homegrown entertainment and navigation systems, Honda has been betting big on Android. The Accord navigation system, like the Pilot before it, runs a customized version of the operating system.

“I don’t think Honda wants to differentiate on Pandora,” Honda senior program director Nick Sugimoto said at a May conference, adding that most of the apps that a consumer wants to run in the car already exist for Android.

Most car makers are supporting both Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay, but those act only as secondary interfaces to the main navigation system, showing up when a passenger or driver plugs in a smartphone.

Ford CEO Mark Fields, in particular, has warned of the dangers of letting Apple or Google get too much control of the car.

“At the end of the day we don’t want to end up as the handset business,” Fields told Re/code in an April interview.

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