FAQ – Do Teslas Have CarPlay?

The short answer is “sort of.”
2022 Tesla Model 3 Credit: canadianPhotographer56 / Shutterstock
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Considering how leading-edge and futuristic Tesla cars seem, it comes as a big surprise when Apple fans discover that none of the company’s vehicles natively support CarPlay. In 2022, this leaves Tesla as the odd one out among automakers.

With CarPlay built into 80 percent of new cars sold last year, you’d think Tesla would get on board. However, this appears to be purely intransigence on the company’s part rather than a technical limitation. The carmaker writes its own software from the ground up and insists on doing things its own way.

It’s unclear whether the lack of CarPlay support has been a serious problem for Tesla. Even in 2017, 23 percent of new car buyers in the U.S. refused to buy a car without CarPlay, while 56 percent suggested the feature would tilt the scales. Those numbers have only increased as more carmakers have embraced this seamless iPhone integration, and most surveys now suggest CarPlay is almost a deal-breaker for most customers.

However, Tesla has an enthusiastic fanbase that is almost as loyal as Apple fans are. The benefits offered by a Tesla car can outweigh those provided by CarPlay, leaving folks willing to forego the iPhone features. Tesla has also been working on Apple Music integration for some time, although that has yet to materialize.

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Even Elon Musk doesn’t find that important; the Tesla CEO says he “just uses Apple Music through Bluetooth.” More recent reports suggest that Tesla may be exploring AirPlay to improve sound quality, which wouldn’t be difficult as all Tesla vehicles come with built-in Wi-Fi as a standard feature.

Fortunately, if you own a Tesla or are considering buying one, you don’t necessarily have to live without CarPlay. However, you’ll have to resort to some awkward workarounds to get it.

Unofficial CarPlay Solutions for Tesla Vehicles

Tesla owners have been insisting that the company add CarPlay to its vehicles for years, and since it’s offered no sign it ever intends to do this, a few have come up with clever ways to add it themselves.

The simplest way to get CarPlay into a Tesla is to purchase a dedicated add-on unit like the Intellidash Pro. It’s not nearly as elegant as having CarPlay running on your nice big center console screen, but it does get the job done.

Another company, Hansshow, which specializes in Tesla add-ons and accessories, has a nine-inch CarPlay display designed to go above the steering wheel, which fits in nicely since Tesla vehicles don’t include an instrument cluster there.

However, if you want the most seamless Tesla CarPlay experience possible and you’re willing to put in a bit of effort, you’ll want to check out the solution Polish developer Michal Gapilski has put together.

In January, Gapilski put together a Raspberry Pi with a custom build of Android that provides the CarPlay interface through the web browser built into the Tesla software. Over the past few months, he’s refined his Tesla Android with CarPlay project, and now it’s much more capable.

In a recent video on YouTube, Gapilski outlines how he’s expanded it to support every Tesla model and added a wealth of new features, too.

To be clear, Gapilski’s solution doesn’t offer a “true” CarPlay experience, as he has yet to figure out a way to trigger the CarPlay user interface. Instead, he’s simply mirroring the iPhone screen with his own CarPlay-like UI built around some of the elements. You can see this in the video, where apps like Music and Maps clearly show the kind of menus and details you’d see when using your iPhone.

Tesla Android with CarPlay isn’t something we’d recommend for non-technical users; you’re much better simply picking up one of the standalone CarPlay units we listed above, but it’s still exciting and interesting to see what Gapilski is doing here. As he continues to refine his software, it could become a viable solution for Tesla owners, especially if he can present the proper CarPlay interface rather than just mirroring the iPhone’s apps onto the Tesla’s screen.

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