The year has scarcely begun and it’s already looking like a momentous one for telematics. OnStar announced that it will make its key features available on non-GM vehicles via a standalone rearview mirror bearing OnStar’s trademark blue button.
And then Hyundai announced Blue Link, powered by ATX Group with help from Aeris Communications for cellular connectivity and TeleCommunication Systems for turn-by-turn navigation. Blue Link is due this spring on the Sonata sedan and the new Veloster coupe. Hyundai says it will eventually be a standard feature on all Hyundai models.
I will admit to being a tad skeptical about Blue Link given everything that Hyundai says it promises – seamless, distraction-free connection between the office, home, smart phone and automobile. Some 30 features are configured in four packages (Essentials, Assurance, Safeguard, and Guidance) that collectively offer everything you’d expect in a state-of-the-art connected telematics system, and then some.
Not only does Blue Link offer a compelling package of services, according to Mark Boyadjis, senior analyst in iSuppli’s Automotive Business Group, but its price “will undercut everything on the market today,” and its level of customization will exceed anything currently available. “Hyundai took the best features of existing systems and combined them all, and then added its own special sauce and value-added services,” he says.
Boyadjis says the other key element in Blue Link is the systems close tie-in with Hyundai’s dealer network. Vehicle Self-Diagnostics, part of the Essentials package, includes automated diagnostic trouble code notification, a big step beyond the “check engine” light. It combines display alerts with guided voice messages, and sends diagnostic information to the dealer.
It sounds like something worth waiting for, which makes me wonder, with technology enhancements coming as quickly as they do these days, when is it “safe” to buy? It’s one thing to think that my spiffy new cell phone will have been surpassed by another model before I get it out the door. It’s another thing to think the same way about a new car.