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O.C. automakers to incorporate Google Maps in new models

Hyundai, Kia add the popular mapping feature to in-vehicle information systems

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: January 04, 2013 02:30 PM

Two local automakers have signed agreements with Google to add Google Maps to new models’ in-vehicle information and entertainment systems, allowing drivers to take advantage of the popular application’s familiar, user-friendly program. Kia Motors America, based in Irvine, and Hyundai Motor America, based in Costa Mesa, will incorporate the Google Maps application programming interfaces (API) into select new models’ in-car systems.

Both automakers already have in-car user information and entertainment systems, which will be updated to include the Google Maps API. Hyundai’s Blue Link is an expanded navigation system that has a number of location-based and vehicle features, including voice activation, driving directions, point-of-interest search, driving performance monitor, Web search and download, hands-free calling and text messaging dictation, and remote vehicle access and controls.

Barry Ratzlaff, director of Customer Connect at Hyundai Motor America, described Google as a “leader and innovator in search, content and technology, that offers “incredible tools” for consumers. "Blue Link makes it easy for our owners to find and navigate to their destinations. The integration of Google Maps APIs makes Blue Link even more effective. We look forward to continuing work with Google to bring innovative solutions to Hyundai owners."

Kia’s in-vehicle system, UVO, is a Microsoft-based voice-activated LCD touchscreen system with comprehensive features, including music, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, vehicle diagnostics, car locator, and smartphone integration. Kia’s first model to feature the expanded UVO system with Google Maps will be the 2014 Sorento, which will be followed by the 2014 Forte sedan.

Henry Bzeih, head of the connected car program and chief technology strategist for Kia Motors America, said the newest version of Kia’s UVO system, with the addition of the Google Maps API, will be an industry first for app-based mobile in-vehicle platforms. "Due to the popularity and ease-of-use of Google Maps, owners can remain confident in the technology and information being delivered to them."

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