Kia, Hyundai and Google team up to bring Maps, Places to cars in 2014

Google Maps
Paper map? What's that?

Hyundai and Kia announced on Wednesday that Google Maps functionality will be added to each car maker's existing GPS telematics systems beginning with certain 2014 models.

Google Maps APIs will be integrated directly into each company's telematics systems, such as Hyundai Blue Link and Kia's UVO eServices.

The inclusion of Google Maps functionality will add a number of features to both systems, many of which are sure to come in handy.

The first known vehicle to feature Google Maps will be Kia's 2014 Sorento CUV. Hyundai didn't name any specific vehicles in its announcement, though the company may reveal more during a special event at CES 2013 next weekend.

What Google Maps brings to cars

Google Maps is currently a popular option for reliable GPS directions and location data, despite being shunned by Apple.

For Kia and Hyundai drivers, it seems based on Wednesday's announcements that Google Maps will prove invaluable.

Both car makers promise "Send2Car" functionality that will allow users to send points of interest or destinations for directions directly to their vehicles from smartphone apps.

In addition, both Hyundai and Kia's systems will allow for voice-command point of interest and local search thanks to Google Places integration.

Kia also revealed that Google Maps data will be used to provide directions to drivers. On the other hand, Hyundai's announcement was less specific about whether Google Maps will fully replace its existing Blue Link maps data or simply be used to augment it with these extra features.

In fact, considering Hyundai recently inked a deal to use Nokia Maps, it's unclear exactly how deep Google Maps integration in its vehicles will go.

TechRadar reached out to Hyundai to clarify this point, as well as find out whether a proprietary app will be required to send destinations from smartphones to Hyundai vehicles, as is the case with Kia.

But a representative of Hyundai explained that the company has no additional details to share at this time, one way or another.

"The agreement was forged to begin this integration and we're excited to add Google's robust information database to Blue Link to provide our owners with the best possible telematics experience," the representative wrote in an email, declining to get into the specifics.

Google Maps is great, we get it

"Google is a leader and innovator in search, content and technology, offering incredible tools," said Hyundai Motor America's director of Customer Connect Barry Ratzlaff in Wednesday's press release. "The integration of Google Maps APIs makes Blue Link even more effective."

Henry Bzeih, head of the Kia connected car program and chief technology strategist, expressed similar sentiments in Kia's announcement: "Now with the Google solutions and APIs, we take the [UVO] platform to yet another level of enhancement for the Kia customer," he said.

"Due to the popularity and ease-of-use of Google Maps, owners can remain confident in the technology and information being delivered to them," Bzeih continued.

Tarun Bhatnagar, Google's director of Global Maps and Enterprise, also said in Hyundai's announcement, "We're always looking for ways to make it easier for people to discover more relevant information to help them make informed choices - whether that's where to go for a coffee, or where to take dry cleaning."

Michael Rougeau

Michael Rougeau is a former freelance news writer for TechRadar. Studying at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Northeastern University, Michael has bylines at Kotaku, 1UP, G4, Complex Magazine, Digital Trends, GamesRadar, GameSpot, IFC, Animal New York, @Gamer, Inside the Magic, Comic Book Resources, Zap2It, TabTimes, GameZone, Cheat Code Central, Gameshark, Gameranx, The Industry, Debonair Mag, Kombo, and others.

Micheal also spent time as the Games Editor for, and was the managing editor at GameSpot before becoming an Animal Care Manager for Wags and Walks.