Amid the cries of shock around the blogosphere at the sudden death of the Kia Borrego, another tidbit of more consequential Kia news remains undercovered. And it’s actually bigger Ford news than anything else. Ford had deal with Microsoft for exclusive access to the technology underlying its Sync system. But with Ford’s 18 month term of exclusivity expired, Kia is set to formally announce its Sync-alike at next Tuesday’s International Consumer Electronics Show. Shooting for the middle ground between Ford’s apt “Sync” brand name and Fiat’s asinine “Blue&Me” moniker, Kia has called the system “Uvo” (Short for “Your Voice,” believe it or not).
It’s no surprise to see Microsoft’s technology appearing in Korean cars, but the fact that Hyundai group is gracing its Kia brand with the technology is a bit unexpected. According to Automotive News [sub], no plans have been announced for Uvo to appear in Hyundai-branded cars. By placing a technology that Ford swears has saved its sales bacon in cars branded with its value marque, Hyundai is going for Ford’s value-proposition jugular. Sure, Microsoft and Kia insist that Uvo will be distinct from Sync, but the differences are likely to be cosmetic at best. Uvo will debut sometime in 2010 on “an unnamed Kia vehicle,” probably the Amanti-replacing Cadenza, which is rumored to launch later next year. Here’s hoping Kia markets Uvo as an entertainment system, instead of spuriously pushing it as a “safety feature.”