April 13, 2021 at 08:49PM

It’s hard to know how much the pandemic will cut into this summer’s road trips or curb Americans’ commutes. However it turns out, Spotify wants drivers and their entertainment-hungry passengers to occupy their car time with the company’s latest product, called “Car Thing.”

The company said in a press release that customers have already come up with 70 million driving-related playlists — not to mention Spotify’s playlists, such as “Daily Drive” and “Songs To Sing in the Car.” The new Car Thing will let users “shift gears to something else as soon as the mood strikes.”

According to the release, the product is a “smart player that fills your car with music, news, entertainment and talk,” and can be controlled by voice, touch or physical controls. The company’s focus “remains on becoming the world’s No.1 audio platform — not on creating hardware.”

Spotify said it developed Car Thing to meet users’ need for “a seamless and personalized in-car listening experience,” noting that the offering aims to bring “our entire catalogue of music and podcasts to a wider range of users across an even wider range of vehicles.”

Car Thing is currently available for a limited time in the U.S. on an invite-only basis. The player is free (excluding shipping) for select Spotify listeners. In addition, Car Thing requires a paid Spotify Premium subscription plan and a smartphone with Wi-Fi or a mobile data connection.

Data shows that 80 percent of commuters think that once pandemic restrictions are lifted, they will return to the “same-old-same-old” in terms of commuting. Ericsson’s Augmenting the Daily Commute report, however, shows that most people aren’t looking forward to it. The report found that one in four commuters would be willing to tack on at least another 20 minutes to their journey, as long as they can control and rely upon their arrival time. And the survey showed that the more people commuted, the more connected they wanted to be.

Spotify Tests Out ‘Smart Player’ For In-Car Use …

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