The silver lining of Australia receiving the Ioniq almost 2 years after the rest of the world, is Hyundai Australia deciding to kit it out with AutoLink. This feature allows the Ioniq to be controlled remotely from a smartphone. Turn on the climate control, lock or unlock the doors, see where the car is and more, from the comfort of your little pocket computer.
There’s two AutoLink variants – AutoLink and AutoLink Premium. Both are dongles that hook up to the OBD port inside the car. The standard AutoLink dongle is Bluetooth only, so you need to be within a few meters of the car for anything to work. AutoLink Premium however, contains a SIM card and modem, so your car can be controlled anywhere there’s a Telstra (that’s who provides the SIM in my Ioniq) signal. Both Electric versions of the Ioniq (Elite and Premium) come with AutoLink Premium (SIM card) as standard.
The setup process for AutoLink Premium is simple. Grab the AutoLink Premium app from the iOS App Store or Google Play and use it to make yourself a myHyundai account. Regrettably, AutoLink Premium suffers from permissions overload on Android, asking for access to your contacts, camera, storage, phone and location. Deny AutoLink just one of those permissions and it refuses to work.
Another snag is trying to log in to two devices simultaneously (e.g: husband and wife sharing a car). You could make two myHundai accounts, but the AutoLink feature is tied to a single myHyundai account only. If you try sign in to the same myHyndai account on a 2nd device, you’re logged out on the other device. This means if you share the car with someone else (wife, husband, kids, etc.) they can’t take advantage of AutoLink’s features.
Once you’ve got the AutoLink app set up and you’ve logged in, you’re greeted with the app’s home screen. The main feature most EV owners care about – the status of their battery – is nowhere to be seen. Instead you get petrol engine related features like your “eco score” and 12v battery voltage. Useless info that doesn’t need to be on the home screen at all.
Hyundai dedicates the top level of the screen, the most precious real estate in the app, to the current weather conditions. The other 50% of the screen is a map of where your car is parked (I’ve blanked it out so all you perverts don’t know where I live). There’s a dedicated menu bar item at the bottom of the app for a map and who is launching the AutoLink app and caring what the weather is like or forgetting where their car is that often, that it needs to be in the home screen!?
Swipe the small Eco Score area on the home screen and you’ll get your EV’s battery level. I don’t know why they hide it here and make you swipe to see it. In a recent update, Hyundai fixed the EV Battery percentage calculation and it now shows the correct amount. However, it won’t show the correct battery level unless you unplug the car from the charger. Whilst the car is charging the app reports totally incorrect figures and doesn’t update them until you remove the plug.
Tapping the vehicle status area on the home screen is also the only way you can access the data this section contains. It should really be its own menu bar item instead of the relatively useless dealer location map (the spanner icon) or a link to the myHyundai website (the car icon). It’s a shame this section is hidden away and should actually be the home screen itself. Those numbers near each door are tyre pressure – would be good if Hyundai put the measurement (e.g: psi/kpa) next to the number to give them a bit more context.
Swipe left on the home screen and you’re taken to the Remote portion of the app. I feel this should have its own button in the menu bar and not be hidden behind a swipe action, considering it’s the main reason for AutoLink Premium to exist. The good news is that this all works well. Whenever I’ve issued a command, it’s worked. It can take a minute or two to actually happen, but it does work.
Beeping the horn and flashing the lights have been useful for me to find my car in a big underground parking lot (no GPS!). Checking if the car is locked is great peace of mind when I’m walking down the street and I can’t remember if I locked it or not. Pre-cooling the cabin is great in summer so you don’t come back to a boiling hot car. I’m sure I’ll be using the pre-heating in winter when it gets below zero at night and I have an early start.
Whenever you start the Ioniq remotely, it flashes the hazards for the time it’s operating. I’m sure there’s a good reason for the lights to flash, but it creates a bit of a scene. Here’s a video of my Ioniq pre-heating the cabin in the garage. Annoyingly, it won’t do this whilst plugged in to the charger. It would be great if it could draw power from the charger, instead of the battery to do this.
Swipe right on the home screen and you get a list of everywhere you’ve driven. I get why this could be handy for some people, but personally, I want to keep using the remote functionality of the app (i.e: viewing battery level, tyre pressure, lock status, etc.) without giving Hyundai a log of everywhere I’ve driven in my car, including speed and destinations. I can just imagine how this could potentially be abused and considering how little purpose it serves me and that it’s unnecessary for the app to function, I’d like this feature to be optional.
The other functions of AutoLink – guard mode, geo-fencing and valet are hidden away three layers deep in the “hamburger menu”. These should be accessible from the vehicle status menu (which should have its own menu bar item), but instead Hyundai put them in the least obvious spot possible. Guard mode detects if someone taps your car and sends you a push notification. Geo-fencing sends you a push notification if your car is taken out of a specific radius, you get notified. Valet mode pings you if the car moves more than 2km and if the car is left running for more than 30 minutes.
Moving on to the menu bar at the bottom of the screen, there’s a map of dealer locations, a shortcut to the myHyundai website (you can change your contact details, schedule a service, etc.), a map of charging locations and statistics on how you drive.
The dealer map and myHyundai website links shouldn’t be hogging space in the menu bar – chuck those back in the hamburger menu (those three lines in the top left corner). The EV charging map is kinda useless as the data is stale and lacks details. Plugshare is vastly superior.
The statistics section is interesting, as it can show you how much you drove per day/week/month. I drove 2,548km in February, for a total of 47 hours and 22 minutes on the road. Thanks for reminding me how much of my life I’m pissing away Hyundai! This section is also where Hyundai give you an “eco score” and a rank compared to other AutoLink Premium users. I don’t know how the score is derived or what the rank means (Top 13% 5 Rank? Does that mean I’m 5th in the top 13%? huh?).
There’s also a bunch of features stashed in the top left hamburger menu – like a vehicle health check. I don’t know what it does exactly (probably just reports any ECU errors), but it’s there. You can also log an accident details in the app, nominate up to 5 phone numbers to SMS if your airbags go off that contains a map of where the accident happened, a promotions area where stuff like fuel discounts (not much use for an EV owner) live.
AutoLink is crude compared to Tesla’s approach and it’s obvious Hyundai have simply taken the same app they use for ICE cars and chucked it on the Ioniq without a single modification. Luckily, the vast majority of the issues I have with AutoLink are easily fixable if Hyundai give the app a bit of love. Here’s some changes I’d like to see from Hyundai to make AutoLink more EV and user friendly:
- Opt-out of location tracking and driving statistics so they aren’t sent to Hyundai, but retain other AutoLink functionality.
- Ability to unlock the charging cable remotely but keep the doors locked.
- Schedule cabin warm/cool via a timer/calendar.
- Allow remote operations to take place when Ioniq is connected to charger and draw power for cabin conditioning from charger, not battery.
- Refine the UI so the bottom menu bar contains Home (launch screen/dashboard), Status (more detailed info like tyre pressure, lock status, battery stats, etc.), Remote (remote control features), Statistics (driving history & info), Charger Map (locations to charge your EV)
- Replace the eco score & 12v battery on home screen with charging info (e.g: charging at 2kW – estimated time until complete 4h:51m).
- Replace the weather info on home screen with battery percentage and estimated range (e.g: EV battery 80% – estimated range 175km).
- Provide much more charging info in the vehicle status page – show current rate of charge, time until full, current battery capacity in percentage and estimated range.
- Allow user to set rate of charge (i.e: scale a 7kw charger down to 3kw) and charge limit (i.e: only charge to 80%) via AutoLink app.