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Sirius Becomes Biggest Telematics Provider with Agero Acquisition

Satellite radio provider spends $530 Million to Expand Presence.

by on Aug.16, 2013

SiriusXM is making a move to expand its presence in the telematics industry.

Telematics and connected vehicle solutions are key elements in the future of the auto industry. Sirius XM Radio plans to spend $530 million on an acquisition that will expand its ability to provide those services

Sirius XM Radio, which is now available on millions of vehicles, entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the connected vehicle services business of Agero Inc.

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“The acquisition of Agero’s connected vehicle business is a natural fit for Sirius XM. As the world’s leading provider of in-vehicle subscription services, SiriusXM is uniquely positioned to offer world-class end-to-end telematics services,” said Jim Meyer, chief executive officer, SiriusXM. (more…)

Despite Problems, Ford Expanding Commitment as Sync Celebrates Fifth Anniversary

Live operator assist will be included with new Lincolns.

by on Nov.09, 2012

New Lincoln models, such as the 2013 MKZ, will get an expanded suite of Sync Services, including live operator support, free for three years.

Despite some persistent carping about the system’s effectiveness and ease of use, Ford Motor Co. and Microsoft are celebrating the fifth anniversary of the partnership which spawned the groundbreaking Sync voice-activated infotainment system.

With over 5 million Ford vehicles in the market using the technology – but with complaints leading to recent declines in quality and customer satisfaction surveys – Ford says it will stick with Sync and related systems like MyFordTouch, but also find ways to improve the usability of those technologies.

The Last Word!

It will also offer more features, Ford announcing that it will now offer three years of Sync Services — the upgraded version that provides live operator assist – on all 2013 Lincoln models. That notably includes the all-new Lincoln MKZ.


Chrysler to Offer “Hot Spot on Wheels”

Maker partners with Sprint on new Uconnect system.

by on Aug.07, 2012

A fast telematics system for a fast car.

Chrysler is teaming up with Sprint to upgrade the maker’s Uconnect infotainment system, adding embedded features that will turn the vehicle into a “hot spot on wheels.”

The U.S. automaker was one of the first to offer telematics technology but, in recent years, slipped behind competitors such as Ford with its popular Sync technology.  The new Uconnect system will add a variety of features, including voice-operated texting and the ability to connect a laptop computer or smartphone to the vehicle’s built-in WiFi hotspot.

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“When we look at the car, we see another smartphone,” said Matt Carter, president of wholesale and emerging solutions at Sprint. “And what we’re really good at is really innovating customer experiences, devices, underlying platforms and bringing all of those together to create the kind of customer experience that we hope leads toward responsible driving for the passenger and driver.”


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.”


Silicon Valley Makes its Move on the Instrument Panel

Audi scores with a little help from its friends at NVIDIA.

by on Jun.08, 2012

Audi's A7 was the first truly "web-connected car."

More and more, your car has a lot in common with your desktop computer or iPad – which is just great with the folks in Silicon Valley — and with Audi, which drove home with an award for having the top Infotainment Solution used by an automaker at the annual Telematics Detroit Conference.

The maker had some significant help developing the Audi Connect system, but not from the traditional line-up of automotive suppliers.  Audi, which operates its own electronic research lab in near San Francisco, turned to the Silicon Valley firm NVIDIA, which is noted for producing high-end computer graphic systems used on everything from aircraft to video games.

NVIDIA produced the processor used to power the A6’s impressive navigation system which is capable of displaying Google maps in real-time.

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In the last year, NVIDIA-powered in-vehicle technology has garnered numerous awards.  The Audi A8 won the 2011 Technology Breakthrough Award from Edmunds, and the 2012 Connected Car of the Year Award from Connected World, while the Audi A7 won the 2012 Automobile of the Year Award by Automobile Magazine.


Verizon Has Big Plans the Connected Cars

Phone co. plants its flag with $612 million acquisition of Hughes Telematics.

by on Jun.07, 2012

From cafes to cars, Internet access is becoming ubiquitous, and with it, your kids may soon start asking, "Already?" rather than, "Are we there yet."

Verizon Communications Inc. has set its sights on the automobile business. The telecommunications giant has announced plans to acquire Hughes Telematics Inc., in what is described as a “definitive merger,” for an eye-catching $612 million.  It is also creating a new forum designed to aggressively promote in-vehicle technology.

Verizon has been an active proponent of the so-called “connected car,” and has actively pitched the potential of its high-speed LTE network to automakers that also see huge profit potential in giving motorists many of the same features and services available in home or office.

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Along with the proposed purchase of Hughes Telematics, or HTI, Verizon has formed the new 4G Venture Forum for Connected Cars, a group that will work with a number of leading automakers in an effort to find even more telematics opportunities.


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.


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.

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“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.


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.


OnStar’s “Brazen” Spying May Trigger Government Investigation

GM unit apologies for “confusion” caused by new policies.

by on Sep.26, 2011

Big Brother is watching you? OnStar's Command Center.

The possibility that General Motors’ telematics unit OnStar could spy on motorists – even after they stop subscribing to the service – has triggered a call for a government investigation by a leading U.S. senator who described the move as a “brazen” invasion of privacy.

A change made last week to OnStar’s Terms and Conditions will now only allow the service to not only track data such as mileage, speed and location of vehicles operated by current and former subscribers but also to sell that information to third parties. The GM subsidiary apologized over the weekend for any “confusion” it might have caused but said it intends to continue the practice.

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“By tracking drivers even after they’ve cancelled their service, OnStar is attempting one of the most brazen invasions of privacy in recent memory,” said New York Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer. “I urge OnStar to abandon this policy and for (the Federal Trade Commission) to immediately launch a full investigation to determine whether the company’s actions constitute an unfair trade practice.”