Hyundai teamed with Smartcar to expand the carmaker’s Blue Link mobile platform by enabling drivers to connect to services such as car washes and in-vehicle parcel and grocery delivery, per a statement. The companies plan to start a pilot program called Blue Link All-Access with California businesses in the first half of 2018.
The service will work with companies like Washos, an on-demand carwash service, to locate an owner’s Hyundai and access it without keys to clean the car inside and out. Hyundai's Blue Link package costs $100 a year for current owners. The additional services will be free for the first three years for all 2018 Hyundai models and will launch in Los Angeles before expanding to the Bay Area, Engadget reported.
The Blue Link All-Access service could be expanded with additional features such as car-sharing programs, remote refueling and recharging, and parking location information services. The user must link a Blue Link account with a service provider account to grant permission and allow access to the vehicle.
Mobile platforms are becoming a key selling point for cars as people, especially millennials, question the need to own a vehicle. Hyundai’s expanded test for its Blue Link platform hints at all the ways that mobile technology can be integrated with vehicles to make car ownership more convenient. The companies imagine a scenario where a car is connected with a variety of businesses that help time-starved car owners handle day-to-day tasks like picking up dry cleaning or grocery shopping.
In the Washos example, a Hyudai owner with a Blue Link account would link the account to the Washos app and then request a vehicle to be washed through the app. Blue Link provides the vehicle location and access to it to Washos. Access is removed once the wash is complete.
The difficulty for carmakers is getting people to accept factory-installed human machine interfaces (HMI). Solutions offered by tech companies are more popular than the on-board systems installed at the factory, according to a study from researcher Strategy Analytics. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Baidu CarLife are a "must-have" for prospective car buyers, the study found.
Consumers are relying on connected apps in the car because of frustrations with embedded systems, according to the study. Smartphone systems don’t face major obstacles to boosting their popularity among drivers, which means a simple awareness campaign may be the easiest strategy to promote their usage.
Technology companies like Apple, Google and Amazon are willing to invest billions of dollars in supporting their platforms, which means carmakers will face increasing difficulty in mustering the research and development dollars needed to keep up. That’s especially true in the realm of voice-command technology that is growing more sophisticated. The technology will create more opportunities for marketers that traditionally have faced obstacles in reaching consumers while they drive.