Hyundai partners with tech startup Smartcar to expand mobility apps

A new technology partnership between Hyundai and a Silicon Valley startup will expand the automaker’s connected-car service offerings on its 2018 model-year vehicles, making it possible for owners to do everything from getting their car washed and detailed to fueling up, all without having to actually be there for it.

Hyundai announced the partnership with technology startup Smartcar (not to be confused with the automaker) at the L.A. Auto Show to launch its Blue Link All-Access program. The platform aims to give Hyundai owners access to a broad array of new third-party connected-car applications, similar to how users download apps for mobile devices, by giving Smartcar access to its API. That means the automaker can offer new services more quickly, since it won’t have to do a separate new integration for every new connected-car service, said Manish Mehrotra, Hyundai Motor America’s director of digital business planning and connected operations.

“We will develop Blue Link not as standalone system, but as an open platform that can seamlessly integrate the best ideas from inside and outside the company,” Mehrotra said.

App developers will work with Smartcar, based in Mountain View, Calif., as the single point of integration.

Hyundai’s Blue Link platform already had allowed owners to do things like sync addresses from their phones to their in-vehicle navigation systems via voice command, start and warm up the car remotely, and locate the vehicle when the driver forgets where he parked it. The new service will be offered on every 2018 model-year Hyundai free of charge for the first three years of ownership.

Hyundai also announced a new pilot program in Southern California with an Orange County startup called Washos, which offers mobile car washing and detailing. Other time-saving existing or future applications include being able to get your dry cleaning or groceries delivered to your car while at work. Because the future is going to be BUSY.

As further evidence of what he called “our deepening relationships with the technology community,” Mehrotra also discussed the recent launch of Cradle, Hyundai’s new venture-capital arm. Short for the Center for Robotic-Augmented Design in Living Experiences, the new unit aims to invest strategic venture capital in startups and early-stage new concepts, and form partnerships in areas including mobility, eco-friendly technologies and robotics.

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