NAMYANG, South Korea â-Kia Automotive Groupâs just announced deal to co-develop a new generation of in-vehicle infotainment systems with Microsoft Corp. may sound like a replay of Motor Co.âs Sync deal, but itâs not, the South Korean auto maker insists.
Systems powered by the current version of Microsoftâs Auto software platform are available invehicles in North America and Automobiles Group SpA vehicles in Europe and South America. is the first Asian auto maker to adopt the technology.
âIt is a completely different system than Ford Sync,â Hyun-Soon Lee, president-research and development, corporate product planning and strategy division, says at a luncheon with journalists here at the auto makerâs R&D complex.
Lee, along with HKAG President Eui-Sun Chung and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates signed a long-term technology development agreement May 6 in Seoul.
The two companies plan to use the Microsoft Auto software platform to bring new in-car technology to Hyundai and Kia drivers worldwide.
HKAG officials are reluctant to be specific about system details because it wonât appear on vehicles until 2010.
When pressed, Lee says two key differentiating features from Fordâs Sync will be a voice-recognition system for 11 different languages and the ability to record songs directly from the radio and store up to 4,000 tunes on a hard drive.
The system first will be offered on vehicles in North America and expanded worldwide later. It will be standard on Hyundaiâs higher-end models and optional on its less-expensive vehicles, Lee says.
An HKAG spokesman tells Wardâs the agreement will create new ways of bringing products and services to economy-minded buyers.
âWeâre even looking into services that carry advertising as a means of subsidizing the cost of some services,â he says.