US: Hyundai and Verizon partner to offer wireless service in cars image

Hyundai Motor has reached a deal with Verizon Communications to provide wireless service in its US cars and trucks, signaling the importance of the connected auto as the must-have feature for drivers.

Mark Bartolomeo, a vice president at Verizon Enterprise Solutions, said in an interview that Verizon’s service will appear this year on 2015 Hyundai models, starting with the Genesis sedan arriving in showrooms in May. Initially, cars will use 3G wireless service and eventually will feature faster 4G technology. The Verizon service will also appear in Kia vehicles, Hyundai’s corporate sibling.

Accenture has said that automakers are rushing to link their models to the Internet as in-car technology is the top selling point for 39 % of auto buyers today, eclipsing performance measures such as horsepower. General Motors, the biggest US automaker, was one of several carmakers this month to unveil similar deals, when it announced a pact with AT&T to provide 4G LTE wireless services in its Chevrolet models.

“We chose Verizon because of their coverage and quality, while other outlets have issues with dropped calls,” Miles Johnson, a Hyundai spokesman, said in an interview. “Verizon’s coverage is more robust.”

The number of cars connected to the Internet worldwide will grow more than six fold to 152 million in 2020 from 23 million now, according to researcher IHS Automotive. GM, Audi and Tesla each revealed plans this month to offer Web service in their cars, including Wi-Fi hot spots for tablets and laptops. Verizon also has deals with Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and Toyota.