Later this year, the first GM vehicles equipped with 4G LTE connected by OnStar will begin to show up on showroom floors, marking the first step toward what we expect to be the broadest deployment of 4G LTE in the automotive industry to date.
This built-in, OnStar 4G LTE connection will enable advances in a wide range of in-vehicle communications and entertainment capabilities, including in-vehicle Wi-Fi hot spots, streaming video, real-time updates and faster application downloads.
Let’s reflect on past news made by General Motors’ OnStar on its path to add more connected services to vehicles.
At the Chicago Auto Show in 1996, Rick Wagoner announced the launch of OnStar. The first generation of OnStar hardware was a dealer installed system that included a tethered handset and an analog cellular connection. A true innovation of its time, the airbag deployment notification helped OnStar win the coveted Computerworld/Smithsonian Award for technology innovation in transportation and Popular Science’s “Best of What’s New” award. This first emergency response service helped to propel the OnStar brand and remains the core of its safety and security premise.
In 1999, OnStar became a factory installed feature and introduced hands-free calling. Allowing subscribers to make safer calls on the road, voice recognition technology enabled drivers to make and receive calls at the touch of a button. The following year, OnStar began providing real-time traffic information across the United States and reached the 1 million subscriber mark. This year also marked the introduction of remote door unlock – if a subscriber was locked out of their vehicle, they could call an OnStar advisor, provide their PIN and account number and the advisor sent a signal to remotely unlock the doors.
In 2005, OnStar launched the simplest and smartest navigation system on the market at the time with its Turn-by-Turn navigation service. Subscribers could call OnStar to receive simple audio-based directions. eNav, a collaboration with MapQuest, was introduced in 2007 allowing subscribers to download a destination to their embedded navigation screen. Stolen Vehicle Slowdown was launched to enhance the Stolen Vehicle Assistance service in 2007 as well. Once OnStar had provided authorities with the exact location of a stolen vehicle, an OnStar advisor could remotely send a signal to gradually show down the vehicle to further help authorities recover it.
At the 2010 CES, OnStar unveiled a mobile app for GM vehicles allowing drivers to communicate with their vehicle through their smartphones. It used a real-time data connection to monitor diagnostics and perform tasks such as setting a charge time to unlocking the doors. This also marked the first time that certified Emergency Advisors could provide important medical instructions to subscribers while awaiting the arrival of first responders. The recognized “Live On” ad campaign was introduced. Hardware improvements included flexible speech recognition and Bluetooth phonebook.
At CES 2011, GM displayed its first phase of 4G LTE research in a Buick LaCrosse demonstration vehicle.
GM showed what future in-vehicle entertainment, communications and safety might look like, demonstrating how vehicle monitoring, impact detection, video chatting, traffic views, home monitoring and more could be integrated into the vehicle using a high-speed 4G LTE connection.
At CES 2013, General Motors unveiled a second-generation research vehicle to demonstrate conneted services and features. It was a Chevrolet Volt with a more comprehensive in-vehicle experience that showcased how all passengers might access the vehicle’s 4G LTE features.
New services demonstrated in this research vehicle, included access to streaming content via YouTube or another streaming channel, and access to cached content in the vehicle or from the cloud, including music, videos, games and news. These features could be accessed through a brought-in device such as a tablet or mobile phone by using the vehicle’s Wi-Fi hotspot.
At Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona, Spain, General Motors announced a broad global strategy to deliver a new generation of connected cars and trucks with embedded 4G LTE mobile broadband starting with model year 2015 in the U.S. and Canada, marking the largest commitment to 4G LTE deployment in the automotive industry to date.
To highlight this, GM showcased new, closer to production 4G LTE services in two prototype demonstration vehicles, a Cadillac ATS and Chevrolet Malibu. Features included a Wi-Fi hotspot for multiple brought-in devices allowing easy access to streaming content for passengers and vehicle push notifications from the vehicle to a smartphone informing drivers of current vehicle health or activity around the immediate perimeter of the vehicle.
On January 5, GM announced that the it will kick off its 4G LTE deployment with Chevrolet naming the 2015 Corvette, Impala, Malibu, and Volt as the first General Motors vehicles to come equipped with OnStar 4G LTE. They will be followed by the Equinox, Silverado, Silverado HD, Spark and Spark EV. In the Canadian market, OnStar with 4G LTE will be introduced on the Chevrolet Trax as well. The majority of the 2015 Chevrolet lineup in the U.S and Canada will have a 4G LTE connection built-in at vehicle launch. More models will be announced later this year from Chevrolet and other GM brands. This will mark the widest deployment of 4G LTE connected vehicles in the industry to date.
OnStar 4G LTE connectivity will offer a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot allowing passengers to connect multiple personal devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) to high-speed wireless internet. The vehicle will also act as a mobile hub, giving customers easier access to apps and services that require a high speed cellular or data connection.