We had the unique chance to get up close and personal with Hyundai’s Blue Link system immediately following its world debut. Our host, Michael Deitz, knows the product better than most; he’s the national manager for connected car, the division responsible for the new tech you see here.
The first vehicle to get the new system will be the Sonata sedan this spring. By the 2013 model year, Blue Link is expected to be available on every model in the portfolio. According to Deitz, product planners are still deciding on which models and trims get Blue Link as a standard amenity.
They’re also not ready to reveal pricing. Like GM’s OnStar, Blue Link will be a subscription-based service after the initial (and yet undetermined) trial period expires.
Our demonstration Sonata Hybrid employed a version of the system that incorporated a few aspects of each of the three available packages (Assurance, Essentials, and Guidance).
At the press of a button located on the rearview mirror, Blue Link dialed its call centers while a flashing “Connecting…” notification blinked on the multimedia screen. With full cellular service indicated, the automated call center took under 10 seconds to answer. (In prototype form, the process of dialing Blue Link rings as if making a telephone call. Deitz’s team may change that sound to a simple beep in production versions.)
Once an automated voice answers, it first reminded us of a needed service repair. The system can notify users of recalls or service bulletins and connects them to dealers for repair scheduling, Deitz said. Blue Link then gives users four menu options to chose from – navigation, information, entertainment, and vehicle assistance. From there, the experience expands into 33 different features that are each selected vocally. A few are activated via a smartphone (say, remote start or remote lock/unlock).
Those users with thick accents, speak softly, or just plain mumble won’t have to worry when using Blue Link. Hyundai has operators (or “live agents”) in the background located at call centers in Dallas, Texas and Boston, Massachusetts to ensure proper user-car communication.
Although brief, we were impressed with Blue Link’s simple usability and vast array of features. However, we’ll have to reserve our final judgment until we experience the system on real streets.
Below is a full list of features Blue Link offers:
|Automatic Crash Notification and Assistance||Remote Horn and Lights|
|SOS Emergency Assistance||Remote Vehicle Start|
|Stolen Vehicle Recovery||POI Web Search and Download|
|POI Search by advanced voice recognition system|
|Stolen Vehicle Slowdown||Recall Advisor|
|Enhanced Roadside Assistance||Monthly Vehicle Report|
|Alarm Notification||Gas Station Locations and Gas Prices|
|Panic Notification||Turn-by-Turn Navigation|
|Curfew||Web Vehicle Diagnostics|
Remote Door Lock/Unlock
|Daily Route Guidance with Traffic Condition
|Automated DTC Notification||Location Sharing|
|Voice Text Messaging|