Spotify finally gets it - it doesn't need to mess with your car

Man using Spotify Car Thing
(Image credit: Spotify)

Spotify has officially called time on its Car Thing dashboard accessory.

The portable media player, which only went on general sale in February of this year, was intended to help owners of older cars – i.e. those without access to CarPlay or Android Auto – enjoy Spotify in their vehicles via Bluetooth or Car Thing’s included 3.5mm aux cable. 

When synced, the device displays music, podcasts, playlists and other Spotify content for selection using Car Thing’s touch controls, dial, four physical buttons or built-in voice assistant. Spotify announced the decision to end its production in a new earnings report.

The audio behemoth said "several factors" – including customer demand and supply chain problems (per Engadget) – were to blame for Car Thing’s termination, and it’s not hard to see why more customers didn't rush to purchase the $89.99 (around £75 / AU$130) device. 

Most modern cars come equipped with CarPlay and/or Android Auto functionality as standard, and even those that don’t will typically include the Spotify app in their proprietary infotainment systems.

Spotify Car Thing

(Image credit: Spotify)

What’s more, owners of so-called older vehicles who do want to listen to Spotify on the move are, in all likelihood, just as happy to mount their phones and use Bluetooth or an aux cable as they are buying a cheaper, third-party media player that functions in exactly the same way as Car Thing. 

Essentially, then, Car Thing is dead because Spotify never really cracked who the product was for – but those who do still fancy buying one need not fear. Spotify is still selling remaining Car Thing stock through its official website (for almost half price, too), and the company has said that “existing devices will perform as intended” (per TechCrunch). 

Support for Car Thing is unlikely to persist for much longer, though, so we’d only suggest picking one up if you’re an avid collector of, well, weird Spotify stuff. 

In its aforementioned investor report, Spotify said the decision to call time on Car Thing cost the company €31 million (around $32 million). However, the music streaming giant’s more general shift towards audiobook and podcast content continues to grow its free and paid listener bases – and casting off the dead weight of Car Thing will likely allow Spotify to amp up focus on the products it actually specializes in (read: audio software, not audio hardware). 

For more Spotify-related news, check out our reports on the company’s expansion of a popular social feature, its new Supergrouper playlist tool, and its under-the-radar karaoke mode

Axel Metz
Senior Staff Writer

Axel is a London-based Senior Staff Writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest movies as part of the site's daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.