Chris Preuss, CEO of General Motors' OnStar division, recently revealed that the telematics system would be relaunching this summer with a bunch of new functionality courtesy of an unannounced partner. It now looks like that partner may be Google with its Android mobile operating system. Earlier today, analyst Jim Hall earlier told AutoblogGreen that his sources (how's that for hearsay) have confirmed discussions between General Motors and OnStar.
According to Hall, GM has a marketing problem with OnStar right now because much of the functionality it provides, while useful, only comes into play after the owner has had a problem. This includes stolen vehicle slowdown, remote unlocking and automatic accident notification. By contrast, Ford's Sync system (built on a Microsoft operating system) gets praised because owners see its value on a daily basis.
Incorporating Android into GM vehicles could allow those vehicles to make use of Google services such as syncing email and contacts and even retrieving voice mails through Google Voice. Owners could also take advantage of the ability to search Google's index by voice for points of interest that could be brought up on the navigation or information displays, similar to what happens on an Android phone today.
Earlier this year, OnStar announced a smart-phone application for Android, iPhone and Blackberry devices that would allow Chevrolet Volt owners to manage charging and climate control of the electric car remotely. Because of the Volt's dual LCD interface, it could well become the first GM vehicle to incorporate Android functionality. GM is anxious to promote interactivity with the Volt to help coach drivers to be more efficient. Adding Android to the mix could allow enthusiasts to build downloadable applications that would allow owners to share information about their Volts and build communities or help find available locations to plug-in.
[Source: Motor Trend, Jim Hall]