Hyundai's Future Vehicles May Feature Web Browsing

  • 2013 Hyundai Veloster Picture

    2013 Hyundai Veloster Picture

    Hyundai says consumers want to browse the Web from their cars and the automaker is looking into ways to do that. | April 30, 2013

Just the Facts:
  • Hyundai's next generation of vehicles may have built-in capability to search the Internet.
  • Hyundai said it is responding to requests from consumers, who tell the automaker they want to browse the Web from their cars.
  • "We see a need for that," said Brandon Ramirez, Hyundai Motor America senior group manager of product planning.

ANN ARBOR, Michigan — Hyundai's next generation of vehicles may have built-in capability to search the Internet.

"We see an opportunity for Web browsing," Brandon Ramirez, Hyundai Motor America senior group manager of product planning, told Edmunds. "Right now we don't have a vehicle that offers that technology, but we see a need for that."

Ramirez said participants in clinics conducted by Hyundai said they want to browse the Web from their cars, having access to everything on the Internet that is available on their smartphone. Hyundai's interest in Web browsing is part of a larger trend of automakers moving toward high-tech features and away from such traditional items as radios. Detroit Electric's first vehicle, the SP:01, for instance, will skip the radio.

"A lot of people spend a lot of time sitting in their car," Ramirez said. "Maybe they arrive early for an appointment and they want to kill time. They can do that on their small smartphone or they can do it on a larger screen."

Ramirez would not say whether a decision has been made to offer that technology in future vehicles. However, if offered, he said access would be available only when the car is parked for safety reasons. Also, the Korean automaker would wait until a model is redesigned. Generally speaking, Hyundai operates on a five-year model cycle. The next vehicle to be redesigned is the 2015 Hyundai Genesis sedan, which will debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show in January.

Ramirez did not say whether a browser to access data would be built into the car or whether an owner's smartphone would connect with the car's screen to project the same image that is on the smartphone.

Hyundai would be among the first mainstream manufacturers to offer such technology. Tesla, which makes high-end electric cars, offers a built-in Internet browser.

Hyundai currently offers technology in certain Veloster models that allows smartphone owners to view movies and play video games on a screen when the car is parked. The screen is positioned in the middle of the instrument panel. The smartphone is connected by a special cable. However, there is no Internet access.

Jim Hall, principal of the consulting firm 2953 Analytics Inc. in Birmingham, Michigan, said it is unclear which direction Hyundai might select, but Hall believes it is simpler to create technology to access a smartphone than develop a redundant system that is built into the car.

"You could do it, but it would be probably better to let the customer use the interface he is used to as far as how it looks and feels, only displayed in the car," Hall said. "That is a more viable way to make that available in the car."

Unknown, however, is how Hyundai and the auto industry will respond to last week's announcement by federal regulators to a list of voluntary safety guidelines to curb distracted driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's guidelines call for an automaker to disable certain in-vehicle functions while the car is being driven, such as manual texting, displaying text messages, video phoning and web browsing. Additionally, manual text entries would not be allowed for Internet browsing unless the car is parked.

The guidelines were issued to reduce accidents caused by distracted drivers. It is too early to tell which automakers will adopt the government's voluntary guidelines.

Edmunds says: You may be able to surf the Web in your next Hyundai — but only when the car is parked.

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