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When the 2015 Hyundai Genesis goes on sale later this spring, it will offer an ambitious new telematics and customer service program with it.
The system, which is the second generation of Hyundai’s Blue Link connectivity, will include smartphone apps for remote start and other functions, Google speech recognition and web searches for navigation points of interest. GM is also going in this direction; switching to 4G to add features and increase speed this summer, representing the next big step for in-car communications and connectivity.
“This is where the technology is going,” said IHS Automotive senior analyst Stephanie Brinley. “It’s not just about streaming Pandora (Internet radio) in your car. It’s becoming how you’ll get information and find out your car needs service. It’s evolving from a shiny toy into a real tool that makes the driver’s life better.”
Mark Phelan of the Detroit Free Press reports that most automakers offer some sort of connectivity for road service along with directions for navigation and perhaps concierge services for hotel and restaurant reservations. Most companies get the service from an outside company and may work with other automakers. But Hyundai and GM have decided they want ownership and control over the system that gives them so many contacts with their customers.
While many automakers outsource telematics, GM and Hyundai have decided it’s too important to trust to an outside company.
Hyundai outsourced the first generation of Blue Link, but it’s bringing the core capability in-house and hiring suppliers for specific tasks, much as it does when developing a car.
That’s similar to OnStar’s model. GM essentially invented the
term “telematics” when it launched OnStar for accident notification, hands-free phone calls, navigation and a handful of other services in 1996.
OnStar has five North American call centers. With far fewer owners than GM, Hyundai will start with two, which will handle Blue Link interactions and regular customer service calls.Meanwhile, OnStar expects “rocket ship” growth as its new 4G hardware allows it to offer more services, Chief Operating Officer Terry Inch said.
OnStar has about seven million users. The vast majority is in North America, but there are about 700,000 in China. Service begins in Europe next year. At times in the past, GM has sold OnStar to other automakers and as an aftermarket feature. The company has now decided to keep the service to itself.
“This is a differentiator for GM with customers,” Inch said. “Going forward with 4G, the voice and data will be 10 times faster. We can do more, faster.”
While all the new telematics features claim to make the driver's life better, do you think they'll make his or her driving safer too?