Honda revealed details about its new HondaLink infotainment system that will be featured in the new 2013 Accord. The new midsize sedan doesn’t launch until the fall, but the Japanese automaker is clearly eager to start building momentum for its long-awaited new model by addressing one of the company’s long-running deficiencies: connectivity.
HondaLink will feature Aha Radio, a cloud-based digital content service that uses the driver’s smart phone data connection for streaming through the vehicle’s audio system. The interface uses a radio station model, with users creating content presets. Besides music, news, podcasts and other traditional audio content, Aha will allow drivers to listen to Facebook and Twitter feeds.
The big question is whether it can vault Honda to the front of the mainstream infotainment pack, or merely put them where Ford was three years ago.
OFFICIAL HONDA PRESS RELEASE:
Honda today unveiled HondaLink™, a new in-vehicle connectivity system that will debut this fall on the all-new, ninth-generation 2013 Honda Accord. Featuring the first automotive OEM application of Aha™ by Harman, HondaLink will provide a personalized experience connecting drivers to thousands of cloud-based news,information and media feeds from around the world, using an intuitive, audio-system based interface.
“HondaLink will enable customers to put away their phone and still stay connected to the people, music and media they love,” said Vicki Poponi, assistant vice president of product planning for American Honda. “By creating an intuitive and customizable user interface, HondaLink allows drivers to access digital content as easily as choosing a radio station.”
Honda’s intuitive new HondaLink smartphone application allows owners to preset content on their phone. Once in the car, consumers can enjoy personalized content accessible via voice recognition, steering-wheel mounted controls and in-dash audio system controls. With a tethered smartphone serving as a conduit to a wealth of cloud-based media, HondaLink creates a unique, connected driving experience.
“Honda’s strategy is about leveraging the cloud to bring a wealth of new information and services to Honda owners,” said Charles Koch, American Honda manager of new business development. “This is the next evolution of the connected car and the connected customer.”
Through the Aha service, for example, HondaLink users can listen to Facebook and Twitter audio newsfeeds, podcasts from NPR, location-based personalized restaurant listings from Yelp!, and access internet music services such as Slacker. The service is free and instantly accessible from the cloud.
Aha delivers a user-friendly experience requiring infrequent smartphone software updates, with in-vehicle content and channel access updating simply and automatically throughout the vehicle life. And content available from HondaLink will grow as the system continues to expand its services for Honda owners. HondaLink will also incorporate Pandora internet radio and voice-to-text SMS text services with pre-programmed responses, which Honda introduced on the 2012 CR-V.
The HondaLink family also includes HondaLink EV, specifically designed for the all-new Fit EV all-electric vehicle and the upcoming Accord Plug-In Hybrid. Owners of these electric vehicles will have access to unique applications designed specifically to maintain connectivity to their vehicle. The HondaLink EV application will allow the user to remotely view the state of charge, initiate charging, and activate the air conditioning and heater to pre-condition the vehicle while connected to the grid to maximize battery range on start-up. HondaLink EV will launch with the Fit EV, which will be available for lease in California and Oregon beginning on July 20, 2012.
American Honda offers a complete lineup of Honda cars, trucks and service through a network of 1,037 Honda dealerships within the United States. In 2012, Honda will mark 30 years of producing automobiles in North America, beginning with production1 of the Accord in Marysville, Ohio, in November 1982. Having produced over 23 million vehicles in North America, Honda currently operates seven automotive manufacturing facilities in the region, producing a wide range of Honda automobiles.