Design & Technology / Product

Connected cars: present and future automotive technology June 20th, 2014

Connected cars, vehicles equipped with Internet or wireless data network access, are giving more options to more drivers, who are now able to share information with other devices both inside and outside of the vehicle. And as automotive technology continues to advance, drivers can do so much more with their cars that help make every-day life more convenient, especially with the many connected car applications on the market that may be downloaded to your mobile phone or directly to the vehicle.

While built-in navigation systems are good at getting you there, connected cars let you do so much more. They can tell you how much farther until the next gas station, they can use high-speed wireless data connections to give you a heads-up on traffic ahead, and they can even detect your mood and play the best music for it. This type of technology is also referred to as an infotainment system—technology that takes data from the driver’s surroundings to provide audio and visual entertainment for the driver.

In particular, Kia’s connected car features include a Parking Minder, part of UVO eServices that help you remember where you parked your car, and a My UVO feature that helps monitor your car’s condition, run vehicle diagnostics, and access other vehicle features from the convenience of your computer.

According to Kia Motors America Chief Technology Officer, Henry Bzeih, the most ideal connected car is one that is both completely digitally integrated and also safe to drive. We talked to Bzeih, Kia’s resident expert, about the current trends and the future of connected cars at Kia.


How would you describe the most ideal connected car?

Bzeih: The ideal connected car seamlessly converge our digital world into a much enhanced driving experience that requires minimal and intuitive effort ensuring an enjoyable and safe endeavor.

In what way should the newest technologies be introduced?

Bzeih: I am not a big fan of introducing technology just for the sake of it. The most important aspect when deciding on introduction of a technology is its basic usefulness and value to the driver and occupants. What value does it bring? Introducing features that are cumbersome, lack intuition in usability as well provide low value to the driver is a cardinal sin.

Can we expect any updates to the UVO infotainment system (devices inside vehicles providing that provide audio/visual entertainment) this year?

Bzeih: This year we are introducing multiple exciting products, starting with the Soul EV UVO system, Apple’s Siri, as well as UVO My Car Zone features that provide speed, curfew and Geo-fence alerts based on owner settings.

What will the next generation of the UVO infotainment look like, especially in regards to the rise of electric vehicles?

Bzeih: The Soul EV has our first highly capable UVO EV Telematics system that can provide ample data and control to the EV owner through the center display screen or the owner’s smartphone. UVO EV Services provides real-time battery-level status, distance to empty, and the ability to search for nearby charging stations.  Also, via the UVO EV app, owners can preset charging time and charging level ratios, as well as precondition the vehicle cabin with remote control of the HVAC presets.  Preconditioning the vehicle moderates cabin temperature in advance, helping reduce battery draw once the Soul EV is uncoupled from the charging station.  As for what’s to come:  UVO will always adapt to enhance the ownership experience through easy-to-use technology that is intuitive and fun, while also providing the types of vital information Kia owners have come to expect. Stay tuned!

What would you say is the coolest feature in the UVO infotainment system?

Bzeih: I would say the launch of our Kia app center. Think of it as an app store for UVO customers. KIA customers can enjoy a variety of apps that can be downloaded from our app center to the KIA vehicle.

How do you think the connected car technologies will shift in the future, especially as the younger generation starts to purchase vehicles?

Bzeih: As Gen Y, millennial and digital natives become more and more buyers of our vehicles, it is highly critical that we meet the expectations of these potential customers. As they grow up digital, the car is an extension of their life. Connecting the car makes our brand even more relevant to them.

Vehicles are slowly starting to feature technology that actually tells the driver how well they driving by drawing data from the vehicle itself. How do you see this developing into greater technology in the future?

Bzeih: This really can help young drivers and drivers at risk by opting into UBI (User Based Insurance) where they can have favorable Auto Insurance Rates based on actual good driving habits.

How do you see the need for connected cars growing around the world?

Bzeih: Connected car growth has been phenomenal in developed countries. Almost all OEMs offer a connected car solution. This trend will continue as infrastructure development as well as regulatory requirements take place in emerging markets as well.


“Connected cars” have long since become a reality our daily lives. Connecting drivers to their cars has become the ultimate homework assignment for many experts in the automotive industry, and it has become crucial to understand the value and possibilities that come with the connected car and the technologies integrated within them.

As Bzeih pointed out, connecting our cars really makes the Kia brand more relevant to our customers. We will never stop striving to surprise our customers with more technology and vehicle features that help build the connected car of the future.