This week at the Consumer Electronics Show, Hyundai dropped a potential bomb into the middle of the in-vehicle technology battle with the announcement of BlueLink. Hyundai has been growing its market share by steadily introducing more appealing vehicles that offer a lot of content at a value price, and BlueLink adds another arrow to Hyundai’s quiver. Ford’s Sync has recently grabbed all of the media and consumer mindshare with telematics pioneer OnStar running a distant second, and here comes Hyundai’s BlueLink to likely undercut and outperform the others, or at least offer features and functionality that was previously not available in otherwise stellar cars.
Hyundai’s announcement of BlueLink takes direct aim at the heart of OnStar in particular. The core of OnStar for over a decade has been its embedded cellular radio which doesn’t rely on the driver having their own phone linked to the car. This allows OnStar to provide features like remote unlocking of the car, stolen vehicle slowdown, vehicle health reports and automatic emergency notification in the event of an accident. Sync, on the other hand, relies on the driver bringing their own 3G enabled phone to the party in order to provide 911 alert and turn by turn driving directions.
Hyundai BlueLink also uses an embedded cellular radio allowing it provide all of the same functionality found in OnStar plus some extras such as geo-fencing, curfew alerts and eco-coach. Geo-fencing allows parents to define an allowable driving range before handing the keys to a teen driver. If the young driver ventures out side of the perimeter zone, the parent will be automatically alerted. On the other hand, parents won’t have worry so much about kids texting and driving. BlueLink provides voice-to-text capability so that drivers can simply dictate messages without removing their hands from the wheel. Eco-coach sends your fuel economy data to BlueLink’s online cloud and aggregates it with other BlueLink users to provide you with feedback about how you are doing and advice on how to stretch your fuel dollar.
Just as with OnStar, BlueLink uses a rear view mirror with the three familiar buttons for general assistance, points of interest and emergency alert. The critical difference is that while OnStar advertises the fact that you’ll be talking to a live call center operator (located in the United States) Hyundai is relying on voice recognition for its assistance services. Hyundai is using the same Nuance voice recognition system that Ford uses so effectively in Sync. While Hyundai is not yet incorporating this voice recognition directly into the car to allow you control your media devices the way Sync does, you know it has to be just a matter of time.
Like OnStar and unlike Sync, BlueLink will be a subscription based service. Hyundai hasn’t announced pricing yet, but they will almost certainly undercut OnStar which starts at $18.95 per month. BlueLink debuts this spring on the Sonata and the Veloster coupe that debuts at the Detroit Auto Show before rolling out to the rest of the Hyundai lineup over the next couple of years.
HYUNDAI LAUNCHES ALL-NEW BLUE LINK® TELEMATICS PLATFORM
Hyundai-developed in-vehicle telematics platform incorporates more than 30 innovative connectivity functions and core safety services
LAS VEGAS, 01/05/2011
Hyundai is set to challenge conventional wisdom in the automotive industry again in 2011 with the introduction of Blue Link®, an all-new telematics platform exclusive to Hyundai models. This new telematics platform will offer more than 30 unique connectivity features on future models.
Blue Link® Highlights
• Blue Link® telematics platform will offer innovative connectivity, convenience and safety services for Hyundai vehicles
• Blue Link will be available on all future Hyundai models, starting with Sonata and the Veloster 3-door coupe later this year
• Agent-assisted advanced voice recognition system provides a new approach to performing in-vehicle POI searches vs. voice-recognition-only systems, or traditional (and expensive) traditional operators
• Blue Link Assurance, a safety services suite developed by Hyundai, will be standard on all Blue Link-equipped models for a free introductory period; continued service available by subscription
• Numerous connectivity and convenience features will be available via feature packaging targeted at distinct telematics user groups
A variety of different features will be available at launch, including unique applications such as a maintenance alert that helps drivers identify and schedule service; an “Eco-Coach” that improves efficient driving; restaurant ratings; and remote door lock/unlock capabilities. Blue Link’s innovative features continue with remote vehicle start, which allows a driver to heat or cool the car before driving; geofence, which can send a text if a driver has ventured outside prescribed borders or time constraints; and stolen vehicle slowdown to help police recover a stolen vehicle.
Drivers will not have to wait long for the arrival of Blue Link on Hyundai models as it will debut on the popular Sonata sedan, one of three finalists for the North American Car of the Year award, later this year. In addition, Hyundai soon will announce a second Blue Link-equipped, youth-oriented coupe model, which will also be available in 2011. Hyundai projects Blue Link to be available across the majority of the lineup by the 2013 model year.
“Blue Link combines safety, service and infotainment into a complete package that works to both help simplify Hyundai owners’ lives and reduce distracted driving,” said Barry Ratzlaff, director of customer satisfaction and service business development, Hyundai Motor America. “We’ve carefully studied how drivers rely on smart phones and navigation systems as an innovative link to the outside world. Blue Link brings that seamless connectivity directly into the car with technology like voice text messaging, POI web search download, turn-by-turn navigation, and monthly vehicle reporting. Our agent-assisted advanced voice recognition system offers a 21st century solution to performing POI searches in the vehicle. This unique and innovative approach enables Hyundai to deliver fast, accurate searches and downloads of POIs to vehicles without the unnecessary costs of traditional operator-only type systems of our competitors.”
As part of the Blue Link launch, Hyundai also will provide Blue Link Assurance on Blue Link-equipped vehicles, which includes core safety services for an introductory period. These key safety services include: Automatic Crash Notification (ACN) and Assistance, SOS Emergency Assistance, and Enhanced Roadside Assistance. After the introductory period, owners of Blue Link-equipped vehicles can choose to extend these and other services as desired. Blue Link package subscription fees will be announced this spring on Sonata.
Blue Link Assurance further expands Hyundai’s industry leadership formerly established by Hyundai Assurance, the industry’s most comprehensive suite of new-vehicle protection. Hyundai Assurance already offers a 5-year/60,000-mile fully transferable bumper-to-bumper warranty, Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, 5-years complimentary Roadside Assistance, and Buyer Protection – a credit-protecting job-loss vehicle return program.
In typical Hyundai fashion, Blue Link services were developed with targeted packaging options that are tailored to distinct telematics user groups:
Blue Link Assurance package:
• Automatic Crash Notification (ACN) and Assistance – Provides immediate assistance when an accident occurs and an airbag is deployed. In this event, an ACN signal, containing customer and location information, will automatically be transmitted to the response center. Upon receipt of the signal, a response specialist will attempt to establish voice communications with the vehicle occupants and forward any pertinent information to emergency services.
• SOS Emergency Assistance – Customers request emergency 911 assistance by pressing the dedicated SOS button in the vehicle. This action transmits vehicle information and location to specially-trained response specialists, who assist in coordinating the dispatch of appropriate emergency assistance to the customer. The response specialist remains on the line with the customer until advised assistance has arrived.
• Enhanced Roadside Assistance – Enables customers to contact Roadside Assistance via a single in-vehicle button-press. Vehicle information (including location) is automatically transmitted to a response center, enabling the specialist to dispatch assistance more quickly and efficiently for vehicle assistance and retrieval.
Blue Link Essentials package:
• Remote Door Lock/Unlock – Enables locking or unlocking vehicle doors via a toll-free number, owner’s website, or mobile phone application.
• Remote Horn and Lights – Enables activating the horn and/or lights via a toll-free number, owner’s website, or mobile phone application.
• Panic Notification – Notifies customers when the panic button on their vehicle key fob has been activated, signifying when a family member or other vehicle occupant may be in danger. Notifications are configured online and occur via email or text message.
• Remote Vehicle Start – Enables customers to start the vehicle via owner’s website or toll-free number, or mobile phone application.
• Alarm Notification – Notifies customers when and where the vehicle alert is activated via a text message, email or an automated phone call.
• Quick Tips – Provides quick reference assistance for primary vehicle feature location and function.
• Location Sharing – Enables sending vehicle location to select friends and members of social networking sites, including Facebook – directly from the vehicle.
• Voice Text Messaging – Enables hands-free text messaging to SMS text recipients, including the ability to initiate text messages, rather than only respond to messages, as with some competitive systems.
Vehicle Self Diagnostics:
• Automated Diagnostic Trouble Code Notification – Provides explanation and repair assistance using vehicle data and off-board diagnosis capabilities to better inform the customer of vehicle trouble alerts. A combination of in-vehicle display alerts and guided voice messages provides customers with additional instructions (information also sent to the customer’s preferred dealer to assist with the repair process).
• Maintenance Alert – Notifies customers via website, email or SMS message that an upcoming service is due at various thresholds leading up to the event. Configured online, the alerts explain what is included in particular maintenance intervals.
• Recall Advisor – Provides all pertinent recall information should a recall be initiated.
• Web Vehicle Diagnostics – Provides a report of vehicle diagnostics, eco-coach performance and other important information in a monthly email report and web page update, starting 30 days after registering with the Blue Link service.
• Stolen Vehicle Recovery – In the event a customer’s vehicle is reported stolen (and a stolen vehicle report has been filed with the appropriate police department), the response center can provide assistance to the police in an attempt to recover the vehicle.
• Stolen Vehicle Slowdown – Used with Stolen Vehicle Recovery, this enables law enforcement to gradually reduce the engine power of the vehicle, thus slowing it down to safe levels. A warning will be transmitted to the driver prior to the slowdown procedure.
• Vehicle Immobilization – Used with Stolen Vehicle Recovery, this enables law enforcement to send a signal to the vehicle which immobilizes the engine management system, thus preventing startup. This capability is only valid when the ignition is off, but the command can be saved by the engine ECU for later immobilization if the vehicle is on or in motion at the time of signal transmission.
• Valet Alert – Enables alert via text message or automated phone message when the customer’s vehicle moves beyond a prescribed region.
• Geofence – Enables monitoring vehicle movement in and out of pre-defined regions configured on the owner’s website. When the vehicle enters or leaves a designated region, the customer is notified by email, text message or automated phone message.
• Speed Alert – Notifies the customer via email, text message or automated phone message when their vehicle exceeds the specified speed threshold established on the owner’s website. High value for parents of teen drivers and fleet customers.
• Curfew Alert – Notifies owners if the vehicle is being used outside a pre-determined time interval. Alerts are configured online and sent via text message and/or automated phone message.
Blue Link Guidance package:
• TBT (Turn-by-turn) Navigation Service – Turn-by-turn navigation guidance provided for downloaded Points of Interest. Both visual and audio guidance is provided.
• POI Web Search by advanced voice recognition system and download – Enables Point-of-Interest searches using an automated voice system. Results can be downloaded to the vehicle navigation system. Live operators provide additional support, if needed.
• Daily Route Guidance with Traffic Condition – Enables customers to pre-define several routes to a common destination and receive a regularly-scheduled traffic alert for traffic delays along those routes. Results include flow and incident data, along with “Fastest Route” recommendation.
• Traffic – Provides traffic information surrounding the customer’s vehicle and in the nearby area, based on preferences established using the owner’s website.
• Gas Station Locations and Gas Prices – Locates gas stations by price, brand or fuel type from the vehicle. Results are played back via automated voice, and can be downloaded to the vehicle’s navigation system.
• Eco-Coach – Tracks the customer’s driving performance habits (MPG and CO2 emissions) on a continual and historical basis. Results and environmentally responsible driving recommendations are provided on the owner’s website.
• Restaurant Ratings – Provides restaurant ratings for local restaurants with address download for turn-by-turn navigation or onboard navigation.
• Weather – Provides weather forecasts and alerts for the immediate area or for customer-defined locations within the owner website. Alerts also appear during navigation routing.
More details on Hyundai Blue Link are available at www.HyundaiUSA.com/BlueLink.
HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA
Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through about 800 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by the Hyundai Assurance program, which includes the 5-year/60,000-mile fully transferable new vehicle warranty, Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and 5-years of complimentary Roadside Assistance.