GM to debut OnStar 4G LTE service on some 2015s

 January 5, 2014 at 9:38 pm

GM to debut OnStar 4G LTE service on some 2015s

Chevrolet announces a new level of infotainment personalization with Chevrolet AppShop, demonstrated Sunday at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. (John F. Martin / Chevrolet)

General Motors Co. said Sunday it will debut its new embedded OnStar 4G LTE mobile Internet on several Chevrolet vehicles this summer.

GM said its 2015 Chevrolet Corvette, Impala, Malibu and Volt in the U.S. will be the first GM vehicles to offer 4G LTE service provided through AT&T. The service, expected to be available on most 2015 GM models sold in the U.S. and Canada, will give customers a mobile in-vehicle Wi-Fi hotspot and allow passengers to use tablets, smartphones or other devices with high-speed Internet connections. GM’s 4G service is expected to be to handle seven devices. The Detroit automaker made the announcement ahead of the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The company said 4G LTE capability also will be offered this year on the Equinox, Silverado, Silverado HD, Spark and Spark EV. The Trax sold in Canada also will have the service this summer and GM said its other brands — Buick, Cadillac and GMC — will make announcements on which vehicles will have 4G LTE later this year.

BMW of North America and Audi of America Inc. also have announced 4G capability. Audi, in November at the LA Auto Show, said it will bring 4G LTE to 2015 A3 models this spring. The system includes a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to eight devices, Internet radio, a navigation system that can stream street level images into the vehicle, plus provide Facebook and Twitter alerts.

In November, GM said customers will have the option to buy data as part of GM’s OnStar security and safety services, while AT&T customers will be able to add their vehicle as a device to their current plan. People also will be able to buy vehicle Wi-Fi on a weekend basis and can buy data from AT&T. Pricing for data plans will be announced closer to summer, said Mary Chan, president of GM’s Global Connected Consumer business unit.

“It’s a very important technology that allows customers to broadly bring in devices and connect multiple devices to the vehicle,” said Tim Nixon, chief technology officer for GM’s Global Connected Consumer business unit, adding the 4G speed will be 100 times faster than current 2G capability.

Chevrolet also will debut an all-new AppShop on many 2015 Chevrolets equipped with its MyLink infotainment system, including the Corvette, Equinox, Impala, Malibu, Volt, Silverado and Silverado HD.

Drivers will be able to use the vehicle’s 4G LTE built-in connection to download music, news, travel and vehicle information apps, similar to what consumers do with their smartphones or tablets.

“We listen to our customers, and they want more choices like they have with their smartphones,” Alan Batey, senior vice president of Global Chevrolet, said in a statement.

AppShops also will be available for GM’s other brand infotainment systems, Chan said. “Owners can now personalize and update their vehicles,” she said.

Some apps were developed in house, while others were created by partner companies and validated by GM engineers.

A Vehicle Health App should be available by the end of the year. It uses vehicle data to provide diagnostic reports and offers maintenance notifications and dealer appointment scheduling.

Nixon said some apps will work only when the vehicle is parked.

“We want to make sure they’re optimized for ease of use, that they reduce distraction,” he said.

For example, a Weather Channel app can read forecasts along drivers’ routes so they keep their eyes on the road.

Initial apps available as part of Chevrolet MyLink include iHeartRadio in the U.S., for hotel bookings, National Public Radio, Slacker Radio and TuneIn Radio.

GM also will offer apps including Cityseeker, which provides personalized information on attractions and restaurants based on a vehicle location; Eventseeker, which gives personalized information on events such as concerts, sporting games and family friendly options; Glympse, which provides speed and estimated time of arrival to other people; and Kaliki, a spoken word news and entertainment app that provides real-time headlines, traffic, sports and weather.

The apps will be free for customers with an active data plan. The AppShop will be updated when more apps are available, Nixon said.

Analysts say GM could see a revenue boost from the new 4G Wi-Fi service. IHS Automotive last year estimated 4G LTE could add $400 million in gross profit by mid-decade; it was cited in a Citi Research investment note.

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