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Hyundai Goes Google

Korean maker adds Google Assistant link to its cars.

by on Apr.13, 2017

Hyundai's Manish Mehrotra with an Ioniq and the Google Assistant device.

With more and more of our lives being defined by our many digital devices, the challenge has become finding ways to link them all together. Hyundai is stepping into the fray by allowing cars equipped with its BlueLink telematics system to pair up with a wide range of other high-tech devices.

During a New York International Auto Show news conference on Thursday, the Korean carmaker announced that will now include Google Assistant, the tin can-sized device that already can be used to do anything from check weather to control a home’s lights and thermostats.

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By providing a single access point to “converge” all the various digital technologies in our lives, “we’ll make life easier and more seamless,” said Manish Mehrotra, the director of digital planning at Hyundai Motor America.

As part of the new partnership with Google, owners can use simple voice commands to initiate a variety of vehicle functions. They can remotely start the car, for example, and set the climate control. With the new Hyundai Ioniq battery-car, they can tell the vehicle to start charging or pre-set the cabin temperature. Owners also can ask their Google Assistant for directions to a destination and then have those instructions downloaded directly into the vehicle.

Ford's partnership with Amazon's Alexa now means that driver can order and pay for their Starbucks from their Sync3-enabled vehicle.

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Hyundai already has a partnership with Amazon that lets owners perform many of the same functions – minus the ability to send directions – using the Alexa voice assistant service. Mehotra told TheDetroitBureau.com that since that alliance was announced last November, “several thousand” of Hyundai owners have paired their cars and Amazon Echo devices.

“We believe that by 2020 we will have our homes and cars and voice all connected and this will become a primary gateway” to control the broad range of digitally automated devices in our lives. Some studies released over the last year have estimated that the average American home will have as many as 500 connected devices within a decade – everything from the bedroom light switch to the refrigerator to the electric vehicle charger in the garage.

Hyundai is by no means the only automaker trying to link its vehicles to other connected devices through gateways like Amazon Echo and Google Assistant. Ford Motor Co. will now allow customers using its latest Sync3 infotainment system to access Amazon’s Alexa by simply pushing a button on the steering wheel.

Just this month, Ford and Amazon paired up with Starbucks, allowing motorists to quickly order their favorite coffee or beverage and have it waiting when they reach the store.

Hyundai's BlueLink service can be accessed through a smartphone or smart watch.

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Even without using Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa, Hyundai vehicles offer a range of connected services, such as remote start, stolen vehicle tracking and emergency crash notification, through the carmaker’s BlueLink telematics service.

On Thursday, the automaker announced that it will also start offering BlueLink for free for three years, starting with its 2018 models – as well as 2017 versions of the new Ioniq. Previously, each of the various BlueLink services ran $99 a year, with the complete package topping out at $297 annually.

Hyundai officials say they expect the now-free service should boost interest in the brand and help convert shoppers into customers.

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