By canceling most of its earlier subscription services, Hyundai stands out in a sea of cash-grabbing OEMs.
At this year's Chicago Auto Show, Hyundai introduced a new service called Bluelink+, which will be launched first on the 2023 Ioniq 6. Best of all, this will be a free perk that the automaker will include on all new cars going forward.
Before we explain the benefits of Bluelink+, we need to provide some context for those unfamiliar with the existing service.
Over a decade ago, Hyundai presented Bluelink's suite of connected services on the 2011 Sonata, and it has only grown in popularity since then. Hyundai says the current iteration of Bluelink has only 1 million active users. They have performed almost 190 million remote starts, searched for close to 2.1 million points of interest, and sent over 43,000 automatic collision notifications. Bluelink has also been used to lock cars nearly 42.1 million times and has been used to unlock cars over 11.1 million times.
The service has also been used to call roadside assistance to help with flat tires and kept teen drivers safe with parental alerts. In the electric era, the service has seen Hyundai Kona Electric and Ioniq 5 owners use Bluelink to schedule home charging when electricity prices are at their lowest, to check the state of charge, to warm up the cabin while the car is plugged in (helping preserve the power of the battery, and to find nearby charging stations.
Clearly, connected services are becoming an evermore important part of the vehicle ownership experience, and many automakers are taking advantage of this. The Mercedes EQS went viral last year after it emerged that you needed to spend $1,200 on a subscription to unlock its full power output. This followed the even more controversial news that BMW would make hardware-based features like heated seats available via a subscription. There are countless more examples, including GM's OnStar subscription, but you get the picture.
What makes Hyundai different is that Bluelink+ is free.
With Bluelink+, the existing Bluelink services will continue to be offered, including automatic collision notifications, automatic emergency assistance in the event of the airbags deploying, and roadside assistance with exact location marking. A monthly vehicle health report and maintenance alerts will also carry over with remote and guidance features, while remote start with climate control, remote door lock, EV charge management, and digital keys integrated with both Apple and Android devices will also be included. In addition, parental controls like curfew, speed alerts, and geofencing add yet more value to the service.
But now for the really good part. "All services included in the previous Bluelink Connected Care, Remote and Guidance subscription packages are now offered complimentary on a non-trial basis for new buyers with Bluelink+," says Hyundai, adding that this will continue to be the case for as long as the 4G LTE network and related technologies are available.
Hyundai estimates that this will give its customers over $350 in estimated annual savings.
Bluelink+ launches on the 2023 Ioniq 6 and will appear on all future Bluelink-equipped Hyundai vehicles from the 2024 model range on. That's great for those purchasing a new car directly from a dealership, but used car buyers will find benefits too. Certified pre-owned vehicles will get a year of free Bluelink+ services, and used car buyers will get these services on a complimentary basis for the first three months.
"Bluelink+ is part of our commitment to being a technology leader," said Manish Mehrotra, VP of digital business planning and connected operations for Hyundai Motor North America. "Other automakers follow a traditional subscription model and have monthly fees for most of these safety and convenience features. Hyundai is once again leading the industry by standardizing technologies that enhance the customer experience."
Subscription services appear to be getting more popular, but if others follow Hyundai's lead, maybe the trend can be reversed.
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