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Google Maps to integrate with Kia and Hyundai telematics systems

Hyundai and Kia will both use Google Maps in their vehicle navigation systems it's just been announced this week.

First on the grid looks like being the 2014 Kia Sorento (actually available in the US early this year, despite the date name). Kia will integrate Google Maps and Google Places and is playing up the fact that owners will be able to send a POI (point of interest) or 'destination' to the car from Google Maps via their Smartphones. Once in the car they'll have access to their Google Places which will have all the usual "POI and destination data they'll need, such as a dealership location, and Google Maps, which will provide directions to virtually anywhere and everywhere a car can travel".

In what might be seen as a side-swipe at Apple following its maps disaster, the press release has Kia's connected car programme chief, Henry Bzeih, pointing out that "due to the popularity and ease-of-use of Google Maps, owners can remain confident in the technology and information being delivered to them."

The existing versions of Hyundai's BlueLink and and Kia's UVO on-board M2M telematics systems already have Bluetooth calling, roadside assistance and smartphone integration so users can remotely unlock their cars, say. Google search will also be available.

The introduction of Google Maps can be seen as a way of further integrating the vehicle telematics platforms with the Internet cloud as the car vendors work out that car owners will want a high degree of access to wider Web and third party services in addition to cleverly integrated car-specific services.

Observers are now starting to talk about another Apple/Google battle looming in car connection. Apple is pushing Siri (hands- and eyes-free, so ostensibly well-suited to vehicle communications) and announced its intentions last year of working with nine car companies on integrating its voice command system. Chevrolet is coming to market first with so-called "Eyes Free" in its Spark and Sonic vehicles. Google is also involved in developing Google Maps with the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW.

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