Microsoft and Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group have signed a long-term agreement to jointly develop car infotainment systems.

The first product, a system that provides voice-controlled connectivity between mobile devices, will be introduced in North America in 2010 and will also be offered in Asia and Europe, eventually expanding into multimedia and navigation devices.

The products will be based on Microsoft’s Auto software platform.

The systems are comparable to mini-PCs in that new functions can be added or upgraded via software updates.

The engineering and marketing teams of Microsoft’s automotive business unit in Redmond, Washington, will work with counterparts at HKAG in Seoul on the systems.

Microsoft Auto-based systems are already available in Fiat Auto group vehicles in Europe (branded Blue ‘n’ Me) and South America and Ford vehicles in North America.

Separately, Microsoft and Hyundai-Kia, along with the Institute for Information Technology Advancement (IITA), signed a memorandum of understanding to co-establish an automotive IT innovation centre to promote innovation and opportunities for Korean software and device vendors in the global market.

Hyundai-Kia will invest US$166m over the next five years to bring IT technology advancements into the car and to develop new in-car services.