Chevrolet is making hands-free cellphone usage even easier for drivers. The car manufacturer is linking some 2014-year models of its Spark and Sonic cars compatible with Siri, the intelligent assistant that debuted on iPhones last years.
Through Chevy’s existing MyLink system, drivers can pair their iPhones with the car’s Bluetooth system, and use a voice-activation button on the steering wheel to activate Siri. Drivers also get the option to use Siri’s functionality without illuminating the screen on their phone -- dubbed Eyes Free mode -- thereby minimizing distractions.
Chevy announced the move in advance of the 2012 Los Angeles International Auto Show, which opens Nov. 30. In Eyes Free mode, drivers can make calls, send and receive messages, use their iTunes library and update their contacts and calenders.
While the advancement is the logical next step for Chevy’s existing MyLink infrastructure, what seems to defy logic is the decision to bring the new technology to two small cars, both of which retail for far less than $20,000, rather than a more expensive, luxury line.
Cristi Landy, Chevyrolet’s marketing director for small cars, said the move to eschew luxury brands for the Sonic and Spark lines “says a lot about our commitment to small-car customers.”
“Safe, easy, reliable and portable connectivity is a top priority for our customers,” she added.
But considering the ubiquity of iPhones, it would seem buyers of the Impala or the Equinox, and even the Corvette or Camaro would covet the same technology, too. Granted, Chevrolet simultaneously announced that the Impala would be the first beneficiary of a revamped MyLink infotainment system that's set to debut in 2014 models. But even that new system doesn't boast the same Siri connectivity. Why exclude the higher-end buyers?
Perhaps the manufacturer is looking to differentiate itself in the growing small-car sector. For several years, most major carmakers have been looking at small cars as an area of growth, and so competition for market-share has heightened (and profit margins have slimmed). Sure, Chevy could brand itself as the automaker that links best with the iPhone. But maybe it figures it can better leverage Apple’s name cachet by bringing that technology specifically to its small car lineup.