Updated 6:13 p.m. EST, Friday, January 4
Google Maps is coming to more automobiles in the U.S.: On Wednesday, Google, Hyundai and Kia Motors all separately announced Google Maps integration would be coming to select Hyundai and Kia cars this year. (Hyundai owns a controlling stake in Kia.)
“You should have access to comprehensive, accurate and useful information no matter where you are - including when you’re behind the wheel,” wrote Mickey Kataria, Senior Product Manager of Google Maps for Business, in a blog post on Google’s Enterprise Blog.
Specifically, Kia announced that it will serve up locations, destinations and directions from Google Maps and Google Places (now a part of Google Plus Local) to drivers and passengers in cars beginning with the 2014 Kia Sorento, which is due to go on sale in the first quarter of this year.
Aside from being able to access Google Maps and Google Places from within the car dashboard screen, car owners will also have the ability to lookup Google Maps directions and destinations when they are away from their vehicle and beam them directly to it for referring to later, using Kia’s Kia’s UVO eServices app. However, in a bit of a twist, that app will only be available first on Apple’s iPhone “in early 2013” and then “[a]dditional compatible devices” later in 2013.
Hyundai’s integration of Google Maps operates similarly, using the South Korean auto manufacturer’s own proprietary Blue Link system, an interactive in-car information system that also has its own smartphone app to allow drivers to look up Google Maps info when they’re outside of their vehicles and send it to their vehicle dashboard screens for later. Hyundai’s Blue Link also contains voice controls.
Hyundai didn’t specify in its announcement Wednesday which of its vehicle models would be the first to feature the Google Maps integration, but it is making a further announcement about the technology on January 10 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Currently, Blue Link is available on the Sonata, Sonata Hybrid, Veloster, Azera, Genesis Coupe, Elantra GT and, next up Genesis models. Hyundai also says it is working to bring Blue Link to all models. The Blue Link smartphone app is available for Apple’s iPhone and Android smartphones.
Both of the new auto company adopters of Google Maps rely on Google’s “Send to Car” technology, which first debuted back in 2007 specifically in Germany on BMW’s Assist service. By 2010, Google Send to Car had expanded further to 15 brands in the U.S. Google said at the time it “hope[d] to see even more partners join us soon.”
Another three years later, that ambition is steadily coming to fruition. In addition to the new planned Google Maps integration by Kia and Hyundai, Google on Wednesday trumpeted earlier announced integration of Google Street View by Daimler in the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and by Audi through its Audi Connect feature. Tesla Motors’ all-electric high performance Model S also features the ability to look up Google Maps directly on its 17-inch high resolution dashboard touchscreen.
The moves come as Google continues to make headway on its tests of self-driving cars.
However, sources with knowledge of the situation told TPM that while Google is pushing for more integration of Google Maps in existing cars, automakers are growing increasingly wary of Google’s own self-driving car plans and its decision to begin charging for heavy use of its map data.
Late update: Audi this week added the ability to use the Google Maps API and Google Places API, as well as embed Google Earth in all Audi vehicles.