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Your Next Car Could Be Updated Just Like a Smartphone

Technology could speed up repairs, save time and money for motorists and makers alike.

by on Sep.06, 2016

Some vehicles are already being updated the same way as that smartphone - over the air.

Stung by a fatal crash that has raised serious concerns about its semi-autonomous Autopilot system, Tesla plans to announce a major update for the technology in the coming weeks.

But unlike a traditional upgrade, Tesla owners won’t be required to visit one of the battery-carmaker’s showrooms. Instead, they’ll have the revised software beamed to their vehicles, much as smartphone makers like Apple use so-called over-the-air, or OTA, technology when it’s time to update their operating systems.

“Tesla is changing the game,” said Roger Ordman, the marketing director at RedBend, and Israeli subsidiary of Harman International,  that has become a leader in the development of over-the-air update technology. “The need for OTA is as big as the need for advanced driver technologies.”

Tech News!

Wireless updates are commonplace in the computer and smartphone world. It’s the method of choice for distributing everything from anti-virus updates to the latest operating system revisions. But the technology is just beginning to be accepted by automotive manufacturers.

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OnStar Injury Prediction System Proving Accurate

Researchers find advance alerts can help save lives.

by on Jun.11, 2015

Image from OnStar shows emergency first responders arriving at a crash scene.

When a 911 call comes in, there’s usually little first responders know beyond the fact that there’s been a car crash. But rescue crews are getting a critical leg up with the assistance of OnStar, which has been testing an algorithm designed to predict the type and severity of injuries crash victims may have suffered.

And a new study by the University of Michigan’s International Center for Automotive Medicine, or ICAM, indicates that the GM telematics unit’s Injury Prediction Service is proving to be an accurate indicator of what first responders will find – in the process making it possible to save more lives and more rapidly deal with injuries.

Automotive Insight!

“With this data, we are able to much more accurately predict which people might be in this critical subset (requiring immediate emergency care) so that the proper resources can be deployed to rescue them and transport them to the right level of care,” said the study’s leader Dr. Stewart Wang.

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The 10 Most Stolen — and Recovered Vehicles

Honda again leads the list.

by on May.27, 2014

The 2013 Honda Accord was the most stolen - and recovered - vehicle according to LoJack.

Crime, in general, has taken a sharp drop in recent years, and one reason has been a crackdown on car theft.  While there are a few hot spots left in the country – most of them in California, according to federal data – that crackdown has been paying off.

It’s not just tougher penalties and sting operations aimed at so-called “chop shops” that trade in stolen vehicles. Police across the country are getting a high-tech helping hand from advanced systems that can track and, in some cases, disable a stolen car making it easy for police to arrest thieves and recover the vehicle.

Insight!

A new study by LoJack, the largest of the Stolen Vehicle Recovery System, or SVRS, vendors, reveals which vehicles are both the most stolen and the most often recovered. Some familiar names pop up, including three from Japanese maker Honda. In fact, its Accord model topped the LoJack list for the fifth year in a row.

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GM Goes Wireless – With a Little Help from Outside

Former Dell exec leads effort to add WiFi to new GM vehicles.

by on Jun.11, 2013

GM expects to significantly expand the services available to motorists, such as the new OnStar Family Link, when it builds 4G service into all its new vehicles.

It’s a connected world and for those who can’t stomach the idea of being out of touch even behind the wheel, General Motors has laid out an ambitious plan to integrate 4G WiFi service into every vehicle it builds by 2015.

To spearhead the plan, GM is reaching beyond its traditional comfort zone, turning to a tech veteran, rather than an automotive insider.  Mary Chan will not only oversee the 4G project but take over GM’s more than decade-old OnStar telematics service, as well.

Stay Wired!

Chan joins GM in the newly created role of President, Global Connected Consumer. In this capacity she reports to Vice Chairman Stephen Girsky and has responsibility over the recently formed global Infotainment Business Unit as well as OnStar and the 4G initiative.

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GM Makes Remote Start, Door Unlock App Standard

Basic OnStar features will come free in 2014.

by on Jun.05, 2013

Onstar's remote connected app, allowing features like remote start and remote door unlock, becomes standard in 2014.

Beginning with its 2014 models, consumers buying General Motors vehicles will be able to unlock doors, activate their horns and lights and even remotely start factory-equipped vehicles through the OnStar RemoteLink Mobile App.

Phil Abram, GM’s chief infotainment officer, said he new RemoteLink Key Fob Services program for OnStar-equipped  vehicles will become a standard feature – and fee-free for five years. It will be added to 2014 models sold in the U.S. by Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.

App-lied Knowledge!

It is the broadest deployment of remote services offered through a mobile app by any auto manufacturer, GM claims – and underscores what has become a virtual war between manufacturers racing to outdo one another with infotainment systems – especially features that focus on safety and security.

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GM’s OnStar to Offer Car-Sharing to 6 Mil Customers

RelayRides takes service national.

by on Jul.17, 2012

General Motors'• OnStar subscribers can now rent out their idle vehicles through the RelayRides marketplace.

General Motors OnStar telematics service is getting into the car rental business.  Or, more precisely, into the fast-expanding world of car-sharing.

The concept skips the busy corporate rental counters that motorists traditionally experience.  Instead, car-sharing allows an owner to rent their vehicle directly to another motorist – often for brief periods and at substantially lower rates.

Nearly 6 million OnStar customers will be eligible under the new program which pairs the GM service with car-sharing leader RelayRides.  The alliance will allow a renter to get the keys to a vehicle without having to meet the car’s owner.

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“General Motors, through OnStar, and RelayRides have joined forces to create an entirely new mobility solution for U.S. drivers interested in more affordable, sustainable and collaborative automobile options,” explained GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky. “Our exclusive relationship with RelayRides provides an exciting new choice: the first automobiles to run on collaborative consumption.”

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Auto Theft Rate Continues to Decline

But problem remains serious in parts of the West.

by on Jun.19, 2012

Car theft fall sharply in 2011 - though there remain major "hot spots" along the West Coast.

Despite high-profile cases, like the recent carjacking of Detroit pastor and gospel icon Marvin Winans, a nationwide crackdown on car theft is generating clear and positive results.

Two new reports suggest that auto theft rates fell once again in 2011, though there are some nagging hot spots that seem to be resisting the crackdown, especially along the West Coast.

Meanwhile, a recent study suggests that certain vehicles remain fair game for thieves, including the Chevrolet Corvette.  According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, more than one in 10 Vettes has been heisted over the past 30 years.

Your Auto News Source!

The NICB, an insurance industry trade group, says the general trend is downward, with the majority of major metropolitan areas having seen a decline in overall car theft during 2011.  Some communities, like Laredo, Texas, have seen significant declines.

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OnStar Offers a Mother’s Day Special

Taking a tip from the cellphone world.

by on May.02, 2012

OnStar offers a discount on its FMV replacement mirror for Mother's (and Father's) Day.

Sure, some folks will buy mom a mirror for Mother’s Day.  It might be inside a nice, expensive package of make-up, or perhaps a wall-mounted mirror over the vanity.  But OnStar is betting your female parental unit might like a mirror for the car.

A replacement mirror, to be more precise, this one dubbed FMV, or For My Vehicle.  It’s a way to get the OnStar service in just about any car on the road, whether a Ford, Chrysler or Toyota.

Such a Deal!

Introduced last year, the FMV has proven to be an unexpectedly popular aftermarket option, the General Motors telematics division so far selling about 30,000 of them.  And now, OnStar is betting it can sell quite a few more by temporarily cutting the price from $299 down to $99.99.  The good news for dad is that the deal lasts until June 16th, covering Father’s Day, as well.

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OnStar Spreads its Wings at CES

New services, new markets part of GM telematics arm’s plans.

by on Jan.09, 2012

OnStar wants to connect users to the "cloud" for a variety of onboard services.

It’s already the biggest onboard telematics service in the U.S., but OnStar has far grander aspirations, with a variety of new concepts being unveiled at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas.

The General Motors subsidiary will be showing off a prototype Chevrolet Volt that can draw a variety of broadband services down from the “cloud,” while it is also revealing the first of what could be a long list of smartphone app-like services that it promises will offer some useful services to OnStar subscribers.

Turbocharge Your Auto Knowledge!

“We’ll be using CES to show where the brand is and where it will be going forward,” says spokesman Vijay Iyer, part of the OnStar team in Sin City this week.

The pioneering telematics company also is preparing to expand its reach, hoping to target potential customers around the world – as well as motorists who don’t own a General Motors vehicle.

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Bentley Plans to Launch Rolling Office

Craftsmanship meets connectivity.

by on Sep.30, 2011

Bentley's Executive Interior Concept allows an owner to work or play in an Apple-based high-tech cocoon.

Ignore the sound of the big W-12 engine and the occasional bump from a pothole and you might forget you’re not in your high-tech office.  But that’s the precisely the goal of the Bentley Mulsanne Connectivity Test Car.

A modified version of the British maker’s high-line flagship, the prototype is equipped with a wide array of the electronic gadgetry found at home, in the office and, appropriately, on the road.  And response has been positive enough that a production version will be launched “next year,” according to Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer.

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“This is where craftsmanship meets connectivity,” said the former Porsche R&D chief, who became the new Bentley CEO earlier this year.

Bentley has long been known for the extensive craftsmanship that goes into its products – about a third of the more than 90 hours of direct labor in each Mulsanne is spent preparing the big sedan’s lavish wood and leather interior.  But Durheimer contends that the new generation of buyers looking at Bentley products put equal stock in high technology.

The new Bentley Mulsaane.

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