Sales, Testimony & Telematics

Gary S. Vasilash

If March is supposed to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb, it turns out that auto customers didn’t get the animals right, because auto sales for March roared out like a bull, as what was probably pent-up demand throughout large parts of the country caused by months of being kept inside due to unpleasant climatic conditions was released.

According to Autodata, total U.S. light vehicle deliveries in March were 1,537,288 vehicles, up 9.8% from March 2013. Which is certainly nothing to sniff at.

Not only were sales numbers released last week, but Mary Barra, GM CEO, probably had an opportunity that she’d never dreamed of when she was offered the job to head the automaker: A grilling on Capitol Hill by law makers who were intent on grandstanding finding out about the defective ignition switches on 2.6-million cars.

These topics, and others, are discussed by John McElroy of Autoline; Mike Austin, automotive editor of Popular Mechanics, and me on “Autoline After Hours.”

Blue Link

Then Barry Ratzlaff, executive director, Customer Connect and Service Business Development, Hyundai Motor America, joins the group to talk about Blue Link 2.0, the in-vehicle telematics platform that the company is launching in the 2015 Genesis. The new system includes such things as destination search through Google, remote start (there is embedded tech in the vehicles that allows not only remote start, but the ability to read diagnostic codes that is useful for advising the driver of necessary service requirements), and automatic collision notification and emergency assistance.

One of the things that’s interesting about Ratzlaff’s position is that his focus is on finding use for the customer, not on the wizardry of the technology in and of itself. What’s more, he emphasizes that Hyundai is a car company, not a telematics/infotainment firm, and so the company is focusing on working with partners who do a better job in that space that they are likely to (in addition to Google, they’re offering Apple Siri Eyes-Free integration with iOS devices and Hyundai has also announced its plans to integrate Apple CarPlay).

All of which is to say that Ratzlaff has a perspective on the subject that you don’t often hear, as OEMs seem to be hailing telematics as the best development for cars since tires, and he is saying that it is best to focus on actual needs and desires, and then work to implement it in as seamless a way as possible, even if this means that this isn’t a Hyundai-only development. And you can hear—and see it—here: