Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Hyundai Sales Rose 18% in October

Sales of Hyundai vehicles in the country rose by 18 percent to 1,982 units in October this year from the 1,685 units sold a year ago, driven largely by the strong performance of the passenger car segment.

This figure brought total sales of Hyundai vehicles to 19,675 units in the first 10 months of the year, from 17,905 units sold in the same period in 2013, said Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (HARI), the official distributor of Hyundai vehicles in the Philippines.

Data from HARI showed that the passenger car segment continued to rally, as it registered a strong 33- percent increase in sales to 1,476 units in October, and a similar double digit growth of 25 percent for the January to October period.

This surge was reportedly propelled by Hyundai’s top selling models EON, i10 and Accent, which registered the highest sales in the category with a total of 667 units sold in October alone, HARI explained.

The light commercial vehicle segment, however, dampened this robust sales performance as it recorded a 12-percent drop in sales to 506 units for October, and a 15-percent decline in sales in the first 10 months of the year to 5,876 units.

HARI, for its part, remained optimistic of its prospects in the last two months of 2014, anchored largely on the country’s strong economic fundamentals and brisk consumer spending.

“With the season of giving fast approaching, Hyundai is thrilled to offer our consumers exciting new offerings and value for money deals,” noted HARI president and CEO Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo.

“As we close out 2014, automotive players continue to be bullish towards the holiday season with companies offering various promos to hype sales further. With the industry surpassing 2013 full-year sales last month, it is projected to hit another record-breaking growth by year-end,” the company added. Amy R. Remo

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hands on with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the 2015 Hyundai Sonata

LOS ANGELES—I went to the LA Auto Show in search of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Google and Apple’s bids to bring your smartphone’s screen to your car. CarPlay’s so far appeared only in a Ferrari and a Pioneer aftermarket line, while Android Auto is still in beta. Still, at a small Hyundai booth in the South Hall, two separate 2015 Hyundai Sonatas demonstrated the technologies. No other automakers were showing them.

Apple CarPlay: Siri makes it smoother

In the CarPlay-equipped Sonata, the Apple rep plugged in her iPhone 6 Plus and showed me how Hyundai has integrated CarPlay into the automaker’s own BlueLink infotainment system. A small icon for "CarPlay" appears at the bottom of the main screen, which you tap to enter CarPlay.
apple carplay main screen la auto show 2014 Sarah Jacobsson Purewal

Apple CarPlay's main screen shows buttons for the CarPlay-specific functions, as well as a button to get to Hyundai's own BlueLink infotainment system.

CarPlay looks a lot like your iPhone's home screen, minus all the extraneous, not-car-friendly apps, of course. On the left side of the touchscreen there's a small bar that shows the time, your phone's signal strength, and the Home button, which looks like the Home buttons of older iPhones. The rest of the screen is dominated by apps, which appear the same as they do on the iPhone, just larger. Each screen holds eight apps, and you can swipe to the left to see more apps.

Apple has optimized iOS 7.1 (and higher) for CarPlay. When your iPhone is plugged into the car, phone-based tasks run a little smoother. For example, when you tap the phone icon, Siri asks you who you want to call right away. "We figured that you wouldn't be tapping the phone icon unless you wanted to use the phone," the rep tells me. "So you don't have to go through a litany of commands every time." To talk to Siri via CarPlay, you can either tap and hold the Home button on the touchscreen (like you'd do on your phone), or you can tap the voice button on the Sonata's steering wheel. It was noticeably easier than other in-car voice systems I’d tried.

Apple has also optimized its maps program to scour your emails and texts for important addresses. When you open up the Maps app on CarPlay, you'll see a list of places you might potentially want to go, such as offices, people's homes, and restaurants. According to the rep, Apple makes sure to pick out addresses only from people who are in your contacts list, so you won't end up with addresses to random stores in promotional mailings, for instance.

While your iPhone is connected to the car, it won't light up unless you want it to. The default screen is black, but if you tap the phone accidentally, you'll see a mirror of what's showing on the touchscreen. You can also bypass this screen and start using the phone to its full extent, but Apple doesn't recommend that. Still, the rep tells me that ultimately they figured it was safer not to lock people out of their phones, lest they get frustrated and stop using CarPlay altogether.

Android Auto: Closely tied to Google Now

Android Auto’s still in beta, but the Google rep in the second Sonata showed me how all you have to do is plug your phone into the car to launch it. There's no button from the main screen, as with CarPlay.
android auto beta main screen la auto show 2014 Sarah Jacobsson Purewal

Unlike CarPlay, Android Auto doesn't look at all like what you have on your phone. Android Auto hews more closely to Google Now. The main screen has Google Now cards, which pop up with information or features that Google thinks you want at any given moment. For example, when I got into the car there was a Google Now card for a trip to LAX. "I scheduled a flight out of LAX at 3 p.m.," the Google rep tells me. "So Google figures that I probably want driving directions to LAX."

To get those directions, all he has to do is tap the card, and Google Maps automatically opens up, full-screen. The rep walks me through a scenario where he asks Google to tell him the weather in San Diego, and then follows up with a question about what time the zoo is open. Although he never says "San Diego Zoo," or "the zoo in San Diego," Google assumes (this time, correctly) that he's talking about the San Diego Zoo, because of his previous question.
android auto beta music la auto show 2014 Sarah Jacobsson Purewal

You can also pick a main function by tapping on one of the five icons at the bottom of the screen for maps, phone, home, and music. Android Auto lets you stream music from various sources, make phone calls, and even text people via voice.

The fifth icon onscreen looks like a speedometer. Eventually, and tantalizingly, that icon will take you to the car’s diagnostics systems. With CarPlay, you'd have to exit out of CarPlay to find the internal diagnostics; with Android Auto, you can go straight to the source.

Unlike CarPlay, Android Auto does lock you out of your phone. If you want to use your phone for non-approved activities (such as playing games or watching videos), you won't be able to unless you unplug it from the car.

Hyundai wouldn't tell me when Apple CarPlay or Android Auto will be available in its cars, but it will debut in the 2015 Sonata model and be pushed out as an update to current owners. It’s not certain whether the 2015 Sonata will be the first car on the road to have both, but it's definitely the first one we've seen.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hyundai Genesis and Equus’ Cool Ties To Portland

Hyundai cars have a strong connection with the city of Portland as it has been the Port of Entry for its cars since the first Excel arrived state side in 1986. The Korean Manufacturer launched the introduction of the Excel on Good Morning  America from the old Red Lion Hotel on 4th and Lincoln in the wee hours West Coast time.  It was exciting for the city and people involved to be part of a completely new car launch.  It began a long history with Portland and in July of 2013 the two millionth Hyundai rolled through the Port of Portland at Terminal 6. Hyundai did an extensive comparative analysis on various West Coast ports for over a year before finally deciding to anchor down in Portland.

“As their volumes have grown over the past two decades, we have continued to grow with them,” said John Akre, terminal manager for the Port of Portland. “We have always had a great relationship with Hyundai.”

The early Excel initially had some great success and good press. It was awarded Best Product #10 by Fortune Magazine. This was primarily due to the low price and great value. It sold a record number of units in the United States for a first year company compared to any other automakers. Over 168,000 Excels sold in that first year. 

Cost-cutting measure by the bean counters soon led Hyundai to a reputation that it’s still trying to live down. The quality was so bad that it became the butt of jokes. Dealerships either made all their money on the many repairs or simply gave up selling them altogether. In the subsequent years, Hyundai began investing heavily in quality, styling and long-term research. It also instituted its now famous 10 year/100,000 mile warranty. The turnaround was so dramatic that in 2006 it was named third in Initial Quality by J.D. Powers behind Porsche and Lexus.

That brings us to today where in the last year or so Hyundai has attempted to go after the big boys like Mercedes, Lexus, Audi and BMW with its Equus and Genesis. The first thing you notice is how beautiful the lines are on it, and even the base model has luxury styling features and a long list of standard features.  It also features a unique banding to the Genesis which is different than the regular Hyundai badging. From the responses I received from people when I told them this was a Hyundai, they still have some work to go on image and public perception so the badging makes great sense. Once you slip inside, it feels like a much more expensive German sedan. If you hadn’t looked at the price sheet you would have easily guessed the price to be in the mid to upper $40,000’s but would be more than pleasantly surprised to read it was just a touch over $38,000. With all the standard features, a more than capable 3.8 liter, V6 with an eight speed automatic transmission, the second-generation Genesis is a real player in the luxury sedan market. The V-6 also takes regular gas so the 18 city/29 highway and combined 22 mpg makes it an even better value.

Hyundai and its sister car Kia, offer the best  voice activated systems, entertainment package with all the tech features along with some of the old guys buttons and knobs to make changing modes and stations easy.  The Genesis also features the Intelligent Assistant® which is a proactive app built to save the driver time and provide an even higher level of convenience. The app combines Blue Link® features, data from the vehicle, the owner’s smartphone, and the internet with multiple layers of intelligence. This allows it to send proactive notifications and recommendations to the owner in preparation for their drive. Genesis owners will have alerts to remote start their car on a hot or cold day, saving them the luxury of time.

But, coolest feature has to be the illuminated Genesis logo that appears outside the driver’s door when you open the car door at night when you reach your destination. After a week in the test car, the biggest issue was giving it back.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Obviously, Custom Hyundai Veloster-Raptor is Dino-mite!

The Veloster has always been an odd bird in Hyundai’s flock. This compact, asymmetrical, 3-door hatchback has some mediocre strength compared to other Hyundai models but sits in an odd semi-power-hungry segment competing with the Scion tC or the Kia Forte. Plus, without the SR Turbo upgrade, it’s pretty underwhelming.

The Veloster still relatively young, having only been around for a couple years, and usually gets overlooked. But it has become a favorite of SEMA participants for one simple reason: it has a wealth of untapped potential.

That’s just what Hyundai Australia engineers wanted to prove when they modified a blue Veloster by pumping it up into a ferocious Hyundai Veloster-Raptor.

Wait a minute–did that just say “Velociraptor”? Oh my god….

The Hyundai Veloster-Raptor Bares Its Claws in Australia

First of all, that name deserves a round of applause. The Hyundai Veloster-Raptor…friggin’ genius.

Secondly, no you can’t buy it. Despite accelerating, handling, and stopping better than any available Veloster, it was only a proof-of-concept attempt by the automaker to see what the model can do.

“The car is an experiment [put together by Hyundai Australia’s engineering team] and it’s an exploration of how far you can take the Veloster platform,” Hyundai Australia’s public relations manager Bill Thomas was nice enough to tell the world.

So how did his team improve the Hyundai Veloster-Raptor? By adding a returned ECU, black Rays wheels, lowered King Springs with revealed dampers, a Quafe limited-slip differential, and cat-back exhaust for a louder roar. That’s still a 1.6-liter engine which now yields 234 lb-ft of torque and 261 horsepower.

There are two good pieces of news from this endeavor: Hyundai Australia says it definitely saw potential in the mod, and the mod could feasibly sell at less than $40,000.

Actually, there’s a third piece: that absolutely killer name.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

How Do You Make the Car of the Year Even Better? Hyundai Finds the Answer in Genesis

The car that was named the North American Car of the Year at its introduction in 2009 has been redesigned. The all-new Hyundai Genesis features, for the first time in a Hyundai sedan, a sophisticated AWD system known as HTRAC®.

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis receives a redesigned platform to accommodate its new available HTRAC® AWD system. The platform employs even more advanced high-strength steel. As a result, the new Genesis has greater torsional and bending rigidity than the BMW 5-series.

Fully leveraging this new, stiffer chassis is an all-new rear multi-link suspension for both dynamic performance and ride comfort. The fully-independent, 5-link front and rear suspension designs have greater wheel articulation and bump absorption over a variety of road surfaces. New 18-inch and 19-inch alloy wheels offer more precise suspension response to changing road surfaces.

The heart of the Genesis 5.0 is the award-winning 5.0-liter Tau V8 engine producing 420 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 383 lb. ft. of torque at 5,000 rpm. Genesis is brought to a halt by large four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD). Genesis 3.8 models have large 13.6-inch front rotors, while the 5.0 has even larger 14.2-inch front rotors.

Since its 2009 debut on the Sonata sedan, Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture design philosophy has been continually enhanced and refined, progressively influencing every model in the Hyundai lineup. The all-new Genesis will be the first Hyundai to embody Fluidic Sculpture 2.0.

 The cabin layout of all-new Genesis has been designed to benefit all occupants with a spacious, comfortable ambiance. The cabin layout of all-new Genesis has been designed to benefit all occupants with a spacious, comfortable ambiance.

The design features the modern Hyundai look, with a striking hexagonal front grille as a key geometric element, a dynamic crease accent running along the flanks of the car, and a dynamic rear design. Design surfaces convey a kinetic elegance, relying more on voluminous body sections than surface details to create dramatic forms.

The cabin layout of all-new Genesis has been designed to benefit all occupants with a spacious, comfortable ambiance. The simplification of the switchgear and instrument panel ensures an intuitive layout and open feel. Genesis displays ultra-precise fit and finish, with ergonomic seat design and a generous, natural feel.

“We have 10 in stock right now,” says Steve Taylor, general manager of Taylor Hyundai in locations in Perrysburg and Findlay. “Both coupes and sedans have been quite popular with buyers.”

Friday, November 21, 2014

Google, Hyundai Show Off New Third-Party Android Auto Apps

Google takes another step toward the release of its in-car infotainment and app integration software with the announcement and release of an Android Auto API. This announcement means that developers can start adapting their apps for the dashboard today. I was able to get some hands-on time with Android Auto from behind the wheel of a 2015 Hyundai Sonata at the Connected Car Expo preceding the 2014 LA Auto Show.

Currently, the API only supports two categories of apps for Android Auto integration, but over a dozen third-party app developers are already onboard with working apps. There are messaging apps including early partners TextMe, textPlus, Kik, and WhatsApp. When demonstrated in the Hyundai, these apps didn't display any text on the screen; rather the body of the message was read aloud by Google's text-to-speech engine. The driver is then given the option to reply via voice, without taking a hand off the steering wheel.

The other supported category is audio apps which enable simple browsing and audio playback from the car. This can include music, podcasts, and news apps. Among the first batch of these apps are iHeartRadio, Joyride,, NPR, Pandora, PocketCasts, Songza, SoundCloud, Spotify, Stitcher, and Umano.

In the car, these audio apps look largely identical to one another. Spotify, for example, looks just like Google's first-party Play Music app, but with green accents instead of orange and with a slightly different list of options that slide out from the screen's left edge. Google tells us that it is aiming for consistency and simplicity in Android Auto and that it wants its drivers to always know exactly where the onscreen skip and pause buttons are whether listening to NPR or MLB. This will help them to spend more time with eyes on the road and less time scrutinizing the screen. Additionally, Android Auto will be able to take advantage of steering wheel controls for skipping tracks and voice controls for switching apps.

Via voice, drivers will also be able to initiate voice searches and destination input for Google Maps navigation, listen and reply to incoming text messages, and initiate telephone calls. Being an offshoot of Android 5.0 Lollipop, Android Auto also integrates Google Now contextual voice search and displays a simplified Google Now card interface on its home screen with information about upcoming appointments, current weather, traffic conditions and commute times. The demonstrated voice input had just a bit of lag between speech and recognition, but the accuracy of the voice recognition was excellent even with our demonstrator's Scottish accent, and even when I stumbled over a few words while making requests.

Once it's fully baked and available to the public, end users of Android 5.0 will enable Android Auto by downloading an app from the Google Play Store and then connecting to a compatible automobile or aftermarket car audio receiver via USB. This is similar to how Android Wear users have to download a controller app to feed data to their smartwatches and means that as this app is updated via Google Play, the in-car experience has the potential to update and become more refined.

Hyundai expects to offer this functionality to drivers of the 2015 Hyundai Sonata alongside its upcoming implementation of Apple's CarPlay software, which will give its drivers two cross-platform app-integration options, as well as the built-in first-party BlueLink software's functionality. Honda Motor Co. has also pledged to offer Android Auto in its vehicles starting in 2015.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Can Fuel-Cell Cars Boost Hyundai's Technology Leadership Image?

Green cars may be designed for practical purposes--cutting fuel consumption, lowering planetary damage--but they can be as good for a carmaker's image as they are for the environment.

The Toyota Prius established its maker as the leader in hybrid technology, while the Chevrolet Volt has been touted by General Motors as proof of the Detroit carmaker's tech savvy and willingness to take risks.

Now, Hyundai is hoping its commitment to hydrogen fuel cells will have a similarly positive effect on its image.

Rather than pitching itself to individual car buyers as a technology leader, though, the Korean company is targeting a different market initially: fleets.

In the U.K., Hyundai hopes to become as synonymous with fuel cells as Toyota is with hybrids, by targeting commercial buyers, according to a report from Business Car.

So far, it appears to be working.

Not currently a strong player in the U.K. fleet business, Hyundai says it's been getting more attention from buyers, who are curious about its fuel-cell vehicles.

The Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell crossover launched there at the end of October. The same compact utility vehicle is available for lease in certain parts of California as the Tucson Fuel Cell.

U.K. buyers will still have to deal with the same lack of fueling infrastructure as those in California, although the national government has allocated 11 million pounds (just over $17 million at current exchange rates) for new fueling stations.

In the U.S., the launch of the Tucson Fuel Cell has been fairly small-scale, with about 60 vehicles expected to be delivered between June and December of this year--and only to lessees who live in areas of Southern California with adequate fueling infrastructure.

Unlike Toyota and Honda--which plan to launch fuel-cell cars in 2015 and 2016, respectively--Hyundai based its vehicle on an existing internal-combustion model.

While it passed on the opportunity to pair fuel cells with a potentially-flashier new nameplate and body style, Hyundai did beat the Japanese carmakers to showrooms.

It may be starting small, but fuel cells are so far an integral part of Hyundai's ambitious green-car plans.

Along with corporate partner Kia, Hyundai hopes to become the world's number two green-car maker by 2020.

To do that, it will triple its range of low-emission vehicles--and two new hydrogen fuel-cell cars are included in those plans.