‘You remotely start the engine and turn on the AC sitting in your office, and as you step inside your car, the cabin is at a comfortable temperature.’ There is nothing new in this technology; it has been around for years in certain luxury cars. The new is that, next month, a car priced close to Rs 10 lakh will offer you this feature, and many others.
Hyundai India’s new sub-4 metre compact SUV, interestingly called the Venue, “is India’s first car that will offer high-end connectivity features to customers in the mass market,” says the company.
The Venue will compete with Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Ford EcoSport, Mahindra XUV300 and Tata Nexon (all priced in the Rs 7-12 lakh bracket); in a tepid market, this segment has been recording monthly sales of over 26,000 units for some time now.
The Venue will be equipped with Hyundai BlueLink—the company’s global technology that provides safety, convenience and vehicle management relationship services. To access it, one has to download the app.
Ji Hong Baek, managing director, Hyundai Motor India Engineering—the company’s Hyderabad-based R&D arm that has helped develop the car—said the Venue will get 33 connectivity features, of which 10 are India-specific.
Some of these include a smart Inside Rear View Mirror (IRVM), stolen vehicle tracking, panic notification, voice command and anti-theft features, as also remote control functions like engine start/stop, climate control and vehicle health status.
India-specific features include driving behaviour and speed alert (if someone else is driving your car), real-time vehicle tracking (the location will show up in the app), valet alert, geo-fence alert, etc.
“As you step inside, you can’t miss seeing the smart IRVM,” said Ji Hong Baek. “It has three buttons—SOS (save our souls), roadside assistance and BlueLink. If, God forbid, an accident happens, a notification will go to a dedicated call centre automatically. Similarly, if an occupant presses SOS or roadside assistance buttons, he/she will be supported accordingly.”
While over the last few years, companies including Maruti Suzuki, Ford, Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Tata have introduced smart car features in their vehicles, Ji Hong Baek says what owners will experience in the Venue is several notches higher. Unlike a connected device (dongle) that some others employ, the Venue will come with an inbuilt eSIM powered by Vodafone-Idea. “It can adapt to all mobile environments—2G, 3G or 4G,” he said. On why Hyundai India chose Vodafone-Idea as the eSIM provider, he replied: “The automotive way of choosing a service provider is different from how you choose a mobile phone network. We had to ensure nobody can hack into the car, where the provider met our needs.” Also, while he didn’t share which maps Hyundai will use, he said these will be real-time maps.
Because of the technology involved in modern cars, it’s difficult to steal them, but “in the rare case of the Venue getting stolen, we can recover it,” said Ji Hong Baek. “The owner first has to inform the police, and once we get a go-ahead that it’s a genuine case, we can track the car, and immobilise it. But due to safety issues involved with immobilising a moving car, this mechanism works differently—once the stolen car comes to a complete stop, it cannot be started again.”
A few years ago, India’s largest carmaker developed a small car for the growing millennial generation, but it didn’t quite work. Hyundai, however, is confident that because it’s an SUV, because its design will be aspirational, and because it will be equipped with connectivity features that the modern generation is so used to, the Venue will become “the third-most important space for the owner, after home and office,” said Ji Hong Baek. The car will be launched in May, in both petrol and diesel engine options.