Spotify's Car Thing Discontinued, Alternatives and Action.

June 11, 2024

Connecting your music streaming service in your car wasn’t always possible. But there is something extraordinary about listening to music as you drive.

Anyone wondering what the heck Spotify Car Thing is, you can check out this post: What is Spotify Car Thing?.

spotifys-car-thing-discontinued-alternatives-and-action
Photo by Iggy Love on Unsplash

Four Key points:

  1. Spotify Car Thing is being discontinued in December 2024. This is bad news for users who liked the device's features like voice control and navigation knob.
  2. There are mixed messages from Spotify. They aren't offering refunds or replacements, and the devices will be bricked, which has angered many users. Some users have reported success with getting refunds or credits, but it seems inconsistent.
  3. There are alternative ways to listen to Spotify in your car. You can use an Auto Echo, a Bluetooth speaker, or a third-party infotainment unit.
  4. Another way to listen to your favorite music is to switch from Spotify to Apple Music. And make the most of Apple Car Play.

Spotify Car Thing is being discontinued

For gadgets like Spotify’s Car Thing, the tech has been better for many users than their older built-in systems. But that is coming to a sad end.

Spotify’s Car Thing, initially launched to a select group of subscribers in 2021, and public sales began in February 2022.

However, it faced challenges, with Spotify citing a ‘supply and demand’ issue and slashing the price from $90 to $50. This unexpected move signaled the beginning of the end for the device.

It is not often that brand-new tech takes a quick nose-dive. However, a quick browse of the forums right now will show plenty of Spotify Premium subscribers who have no idea what Car Thing is.

The Q1 2022 Spotify Report outlined that they took a hit of about 31 million euros - uptake simply wasn’t as massive as hoped.

Last week, Spotify announced it was scrapping Car Thing - and in a big way. The 4-inch touchscreen and navigation knob are being bricked. In otherwords, on December 9th 2024, it is will become a plastic rectangle of e-waste.

Car Thing supported Apple CarPlay, had voice control, and had Android Auto. So, even users who had transferred from Spotify to Apple Music could keep using it.

Current Car Thing users have also been left with no alternative options from Spotify. Users are left responsible for eco-friendly recycling with no plans to open-source it, offer a trade-in, or refunds according too them. Which contradicts the refunds that are currently being issued.

A confusing state of affairs for Car Thing owners.

Here is Spotify’s announcement about it:

We have made the decision to discontinue Car Thing. This means that Car Thing will no longer be operational. This decision wasn't made lightly, and we want to assure you that our commitment to providing a superior listening experience remains unchanged.
We acknowledge and deeply appreciate the support and enthusiasm you have shown for Car Thing. It has been an incredible journey, and we are grateful for all the miles we've shared. - Source, Car Thing Discontinued.

For many, the ‘appreciation’ they share isn’t a good enough solution, though. Reddit and the Spotify forum are filled with people who are pressing for it to be made open-source.

If Car Thing were to be made open-source, it could live a second life rather than thousands of them ending up in landfills.

Spotify Car Thing will officially die on the 9th of December 2024.

In Spotify’s own words, they “recommend resetting the Car Thing to factory settings and safely disposing of your device following local electronic waste guidelines.”'

People's general feeling is that the bricking of the device is what really matters to them. To that end, some users report Spotify to the FTC and call others to do the same.

Holding Spotify accountable for selling the items while knowing they would scrap them in the future and putting the onus of recycling on the user isn’t great business.

Spotify's Car Thing Discontinued, Alternatives and Action.

While some users have successfully received refunds or premium credits, others haven’t, showing there isn’t cohesion in customer services and how this should be handled.

Spotify's Car Thing Discontinued, Alternatives and Action.

Can you listen to Spotify in the car without Car Thing?

For those who have been using their Car Thing daily, there are a couple of options for a replacement.

Auto Echo

Auto Alexa is an excellent option for those already using Alexa at home and those with an Amazon Prime account (which comes with Amazon Prime for free).

You’re not too limited in how you listen to music. You can use this for Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music, iHeartRadio, SiriusXM, and Audible.

You can also check your emails and use voice shortcuts for home accessories.

For a second-gen model, you’ll pay about $49.

Bluetooth speaker

The quality won’t blow you away, and it doesn’t offer the same controls as Car Thing, but you’ll get access to your Spotify playlists.

Combine it with making some great playlists and making the most of voice commands, and you’re almost there.

Third-Party infotainment unit

There are plenty of infotainment unit options, and while you might need an aftermarket wiring harness adapter for older cars, many are plug-and-play. They often work well with a wireless connection, too.

They won’t always solve the entire problem, but the screen is closer to the Car Thing than using a mobile phone for many.

Options:

  • Atoto F7 We
  • JVC KW-M560B7
  • Apple CarPlay

However, cheaper Bluetooth screen options are available, too.

Is there action being taken against Spotify?

There are several initiatives that users are taking to make sure that their voices are heard. Here are a couple of things that are floating around the forums right now:

  • Reporting Spotify to the FTC.
  • Asking for a refund through their chat.
  • Looking at the laws relating to purchases in your region (some warranties are longer than others).
  • Petition for the hardware to be made open source (initially started in 2022, but now rekindled and alive).
  • Some people call for others to leave because of poor customer treatment.

The situation will likely unfold further in the months ahead, and we may see legal action, or Spotify might listen to customers and make it open source.

Updates will be added to the top of the post as they happen, and if you’d like to suggest any alternatives to Spotify Car Thing, add them to the comments below!

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