Like other automakers, Hyundai is betting that pairing its vehicles with third-party voice assistants via the Blue Link telematics system will appeal to today’s connected consumers. And the Korean automaker is also wagering that car owners may pay for cloud-based features such as remote access to vehicles and navigation after getting them for free after a few years.
Following integration with Apple Watch and Android Wear platforms in 2015, Hyundai announced at the LA Auto Show last November that it was adding Amazon Alexa capability via Amazon Echo speakers to Blue Link so that owners could remotely lock or unlock a car’s doors or start the engine through voice command. Last week at the New York International Auto Show, Hyundai revealed it was adding similar features to Blue Link using Google Assistant and a Google Home speaker, and that buyers of new vehicles will get these features and more for free during the first three years of ownership.
The automaker also announced in New York that it’s making the Blue Link Connected Care, Remote and Guidance packages gratis for three years on all 2018 models and on the 2017 Ioniq vehicles. Normally, each package cost $99 per year after a complimentary 12-month trial for the Connected Care package and three months for Remote and Guidance.
The Connected Care Package includes features such as automatic collision notification, emergency assistance and stolen vehicle recovery, while the Guidance Package (which requires an onboard navigation system) adds free map updates, connected Google Local Search and Google Maps send-to-car integration. The rollout of the free Blue Link services will kick off with the the 2018 Elantra GT, Santa Fe Sport and redesigned 2018 Sonata, which also debuted at the New York show. Hyundai also added new features such as activation of the rear defroster and heated side mirrors for 2018 Elantra GT and Sonata as part of the Remote package.
Manish Mehrotra, director of digital business planning and connected operations for Hyundai, said that remote start is one of the most popular services provided by Blue Link. He added that Hyundai owners request more than one million remote starts a month during the winter and the company performs more than a million remote door locks each year.
That adds up to a lot of free remote starts and door locking over the course three years. But the question is whether car owners will convert to subscribers after the free trial.
Hyundai also isn’t the only automaker linking voice assistants to vehicles. Ford is connecting its cars to Alexa, while BMW and Nissan announced integration with Microsoft’s Cortana at CES 2017. An even bigger question is who owns the data from these cloud-based services: automakers, tech companies or car owners? And are the systems secure?
Originally posted by Forbes.com