We always wondered how a phone-based concierge service would fit into a world that's populated with DVD-based navigation systems that contain millions of points of interest. General Motors' OnStar service, however, has weathered the arrival of in-dash and third-party nav systems quite nicely, thank you very much. Today the service announced a trio of new features, including one called OnStar Destination Download that marries its main selling point (speaking with a human being) to the power of GM vehicles equipped with a screen-based nav system. Unlike with most vehicles that feature a built-in nav, OnStar subscribers using this new service don't have to stop their vehicles to input a destination. They can push the little blue OnStar button and give the destination verbally to an advisor who will then download it into the car's screen-based nav. All this happens on the go and is completely hands-free, except for pushing the OnStar button.
The second service is called OnStar eNav, which was first announced almost a year ago, that lets subscribers plan their trips on MapQuest (disclaimer: MapQuest is owned by AOL and so is Autoblog. Small world, huh?) and call them up later from within their vehicle. A user will again push the OnStar button and follow voice commands to retrieve their directions. This service, however, does not input the directions into your screen-based nav system, but instead uses OnStar's Turn-by-Turn voice navigation to guide you.
Finally, OnStar subscribers with screen-based nav systems will also benefit from the company signing up with the XM NavTraffic service. This service, which allows the nav system to reroute around poor traffic conditions, is already used on a small handful of GM vehicles, but will expand in 2009 to all 22 vehicles the automaker offers with screen-based nav systems.
GM And OnStar Lead The Way With New Navigation Services
GM's new navigation services include OnStar download to navigation system and MapQuest functionality
Dallas - OnStar today announced the introduction of two new navigational services to complement and enhance its existing Turn-by-Turn service, the most widely available navigation system on the market. These features solidify GM's leadership in navigation with more vehicles on the road with embedded navigation systems and more options than any other automaker.
The first new service is OnStar Destination Download, which enables OnStar subscribers with screen-based navigation systems to quickly input their destination while on the go via the simple press of a button. The second service, OnStar eNav, allows subscribers with a Turn-by-Turn Navigation-capable vehicle to find and save destinations on MapQuest.com and have those destinations sent to their vehicle's OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation system.
"Through OnStar and onboard navigation systems, GM is transforming the category with the broadest range of options to suit customer preferences," said OnStar President Chet Huber. "With 3.1 million model year 2008 vehicles equipped with some form of factory-installed navigation, GM is delivering on our commitment to redefine the availability and functionality of navigation systems in the United States and Canada."
To initiate OnStar Destination Download, users simply press the OnStar blue button to connect with an advisor. Once subscribers provide the advisor with their destination, the destination is downloaded to their navigation screen within seconds. Press the "Go" button on the navigation system to begin the route.
Typically to use a screen-based navigation system, drivers have to bring their vehicle to a stop and place it in park. With OnStar Destination Download, subscribers can have the address of their destination sent directly to their navigation system while still driving, providing a safe, easy and immediate solution.
In addition, OnStar brings more than 10 million point-of-interest records, refreshed every month, to the navigation system. This supplements and greatly enhances the point-of-interest data loaded on navigation DVDs.
OnStar Destination Download will be available on over 80 percent of GM's screen-based navigation vehicle volume or 325,000 Model Year 2009 vehicles. In total, 22 different GM vehicle models will offer this new service.
OnStar's second new service offering, OnStar eNav, allows subscribers to plan their travel destinations on the MapQuest site (www.mapquest.com) and then send those destinations to their OnStar system. When ready to retrieve those directions, subscribers simply press their vehicle's OnStar phone button to access voice-guided commands through which they can select their route. Turn-by-Turn navigation will then launch to guide them on their way.
"At MapQuest we strive to provide our users with easy-to-use features that will save them time and ensure that they find their destination," said Christian Dwyer, Senior Vice President and General Manager of MapQuest. "OnStar eNav is a great addition to our suite of 'Send To' capabilities offering users the convenience of researching and planning online and sending results to a user's preferred device or system."
OnStar eNav will be available retroactively on 2.7 million current Turn-by-Turn capable GM vehicles. Later this year eNav will also combine with OnStar Destination Download to download destinations directly to the vehicle's screen-based navigation system.
OnStar and MapQuest conducted a pilot of eNav beginning in June 2007 with approximately 3,000 customers. A survey of pilot participants showed that 95 percent of them would use eNav at least monthly and 93 percent of the participants agreed that eNav should be offered by OnStar.
"From the pilot we learned that many of our subscribers like to pre-plan their trips, especially when visiting new areas," said Huber. "They appreciated the simplicity of eNav and used it to plan thousands of routes."
Also available to subscribers with screen-based navigation systems is XM NavTraffic, XM's real-time traffic information service is now available in 80 major North American markets. This service feeds comprehensive road condition data such as accidents, traffic backups and road construction to the subscriber's navigation screen. The availability of XM NavTraffic will greatly expand in model year 2009 to the same 22 GM vehicles equipped with screen-based navigation that also feature OnStar Destination Download. XM NavTraffic made its GM debut on the 2005 Cadillac CTS.
Where available, XM NavTraffic subscribers can view a color-coded overlay on their navigation screen indicating the average speed of travel along their planned route.
"GM and OnStar are demonstrating their commitment to providing their drivers with the best in technology, with this impressive expansion of XM NavTraffic across 22 vehicles in the 2009 model year," said Steve Cook, executive vice president, automotive, XM Satellite Radio. "XM NavTraffic provides the most comprehensive information and coast-to-coast updates every minute, ensuring that GM drivers will always have the latest and most detailed information at his or her fingertips. "
"Our varied connected navigation options mean something for everyone whether you drive a Cadillac CTS or a Chevrolet Cobalt," Huber said. "As the leader in navigation our continual goal is to provide GM drivers with useful and convenient services that make the driving experience simpler, safer and more secure."
For more information on each of these navigational services, visit www.onstar.com.