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New cars are going to get even smarter [Waikato Times (New Zealand)]
[February 04, 2011]

New cars are going to get even smarter [Waikato Times (New Zealand)]


(Waikato Times (New Zealand) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Cleverer cars are on the way, writes Toby Hagon of the Fairfax Drive magazine.

Smartphones and cutting-edge consumer electronics devices are transforming the modern car and fast-tracking new technology that can keep people connected while they're driving.

Within a year motorists on both sides of the Tasman will be able to choose cars that can remotely monitor speed and usage, diagnose problems, book themselves in for a service (and order the parts before being dropped off), provide restaurant reviews and petrol prices and even create fuel-economy competitions between owners.



Some luxury cars in this part of the world offer comparatively basic telematics systems.

But the advent of smartphone "apps" and the of more advanced features evolving weekly, will see owners - particularly younger people - increasingly demanding their inclusion in cars.


Hyundai's upcoming Veloster, due in New Zealand later this year, has a raft of satellite and web-based technology as part of a Blue Link telematics system that will be offered with the car in the US.

The answer to rival systems such as that from General Motors (OnStar) and Ford (Sync), Hyundai's subscription- based system is one of the newest and demonstrates how quickly the technology can be adapted and tailored to mass- market brands.

However, it's not known if the technology will be available in this market. GM and Ford don't offer their systems locally.

Blue Link also adds more features to those already available - many aimed at younger motorists - giving an inkling as to the potential of electronics and connected driving.

"We've carefully studied how drivers rely on smartphones and navigation systems as an innovative link to the outside world," says Barry Ratzlaff, director of customer satisfaction and service business development at Hyundai America.

Blue Link can monitor fuel use automatically and compare it with that of other Veloster drivers, providing "reward stars" in recognition of frugal motoring.

A Hyundai spokesman who worked on the Blue Link project says the potential for such connectivity is unlimited and could result in prizes and other incentives, or even more targeted marketing campaigns.

Such telematics are not new but they have never taken off in Australia, proving difficult to make viable due to a relatively small population and large land mass.

Toyota and Holden were early adopters of telematics systems in Australia but Holden later shelved the features owing to a slow take- up from the market, while Toyota offers it only on a single model.

Fiat has also offered a Microsoft-based system called Blue&Me, allowing owners to download fuel and emissions data to a USB.

Toyota says it is planning to ramp up the technology and connectivity of its vehicles.

"It's under investigation and we're developing plans," Toyota spokesman Mike Breen says.

"Technology moves at a very fast pace. It's a matter of being one step ahead of the technology and that's what we're working on," Breen says.

(c) 2011 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

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