• Jan 6, 2010

It's time for the Consumer Electronics Show and so it's also time for the techiest cars on the road (and those which haven't quite made it there yet) to strut their stuff. General Motors and OnStar took a little time last night to show off the Volt mobile apps that will launch with the car, which were formally announced last night, and we were there to try them out and capture a little video. Worth getting excited about? We think so, but read on to find out for yourself.



Maria Rohrer, Marketing Director at GM, was first up for the night, warming up the crowd and reminding us that the Volt is, indeed, still on track to hit production sometime by the end of the year. Eighty cars have thus-far been built by hand, with LiON battery manufacturing facilities ramping up ahead of full production as those first fourscore cars are put through their paces in the hottest of southwestern deserts and the coldest of Canadian tundra.


Then Walt Dorfstatter got things really rolling, giving us a demo of the app we'd come to see: a remote control of the Volt. The demonstration was run on a Motorola Droid, which was used to send a variety of commands to a willing Volt that was plugged in and charging. Messages go from the phone to the OnStar system, which then securely beams them down to the car, enabling a user of the app to basically do anything an OnStar operator could do – honk the horn, track your mileage and even unlock the doors. Yes, with this mobile app you could lock or unlock the car from anywhere, which could be something of a security concern for anyone who runs with a phone that isn't password protected. One of the OnStar reps did confirm, though, that they're thinking about adding a separate password or authentication method within the app itself.
Finally, those living in the north will be happy to know that you can remotely "start" the car from a phone as well, which doesn't actually fire up the onboard engine but instead gets the cabin up to temperature while it's still plugged to the wall – in theory giving you a little more range on your commute before going to petrol reserves.


The app will go live for real whenever the car itself finally hits dealers (probably later this year), but OnStar has thoughtfully put a demo version up online now at OnStarMobileDemo.com and the Apple App Store that anyone can download and play with to get a feel for its functionality. Well, anyone with a BlackBerry, iPhone or Android device, anyway. Windows Mobile and Palm support is not something anyone is talking about, but the company will have plenty of time to make it happen before these things hit dealers. And yes, you'll need to be an OnStar subscriber to use this functionality when that day comes, and we're thinking that service just got its killer app.


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  • 25 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Just when seaurchin was toning it down, and JDMlife was staying away from posts about domestic cars...
      • 5 Years Ago
      It would be a pretty expensive process.

      GM has already laid the groundwork with OnStar, virtually all of their vehicles (if not all of them by now) come with OnSatr built in. That's what allows them to transmit this type of data. For instance, OnStar already allows the uploading of ECU info to OnStar, for instance when a check engine light comes on that the OnStar operator can then read and determine if it's a serious enough issue that you need to call a tow truck or if you can keep going on your way and stop by a dealer later. Helpful if your on a trip or in an unfamiliar area. Additionally, OnStar equipped vehicles also have the ability to occasionally email the owner with the status of the vehicles systems.

      This app basically takes a lot of the already existing functionality of OnStar and moves it to a mobile phone application.

      Nissan, Toyota and the like don't already have a technology like OnStar that allows data transfer like this from the vehicle to another device wirelessly.

      Not saying that they couldn't do it, but it would be a pretty expensive addition if they were only planning to use it for their EV's. GM has the benefit of already having this built into to far more vehicles. This Volt app basically amounts to a side project.

      Ford would probably be closest since I believe that Sync does have some of the same capabilities as OnStar in this area.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Great! Now when it's -30C outside I can see my battery has exactly 2 minutes on a full charge....

      No seriously very cool idea and good PR for them to release the teaser of how it will work. Heard that Sync is doing similar with 'apps' on the way as well as iTunes tagging and in car WiFi.

      The future for all looks very connected!
      • 5 Years Ago
      They Should of renamed it " On Charge"
      • 5 Years Ago
      This...is...awesome. Prius just got owned. Looks like GM and Ford are putting some serious heat in the hybrid race. It's great to see this come from America..not solely from Japan or Korea.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Can't afford it, HA! How immature. I drive a Mustang COBRA mind you. Don't need this turd in my driveway. I can afford to buy it and drive it off a cliff. GM SUX. I'd rather drive a (dare me to say it) a TOYOTA. Ha! That's should get the fanboys all fired up.



      LMFAO!!!!!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wow, didn't know the 2009 Cobras are old. Where can I find a 2009 Cobra for 7k. You're an idiot.
        • 5 Years Ago
        ROFL

        "I drive a Mustang COBRA, mind you"

        Go back to high school. Your COBRA might get you some poon there. MIGHT (since you love capitalization)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Thanks!
        • 5 Years Ago
        wow frank you really did step up with your car. i will make my correction 14k....


        soooo car guy, you drive a drag car around?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I was never a fan of Mr. Shelby. I dig Cobra better. It is the same car, what's your point?

        Why don't you go out and try to have fun driving your KIA Sorrento
        • 5 Years Ago
        Awesome..good for you.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ari, it is nice to see that your actually thinking.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Cool. Again, with remote start iPhone apps, (not necessarily Volt), for ICE cars (internal combustion engine), I can see a Columbo episode where a guy remote floods his (ex-?) wife's home with carbon monoxide by remotely starting starting the car, but having an alibi of being in Pune, India, too.

      Or accidental CO poisoning as well.

      again, might not relate to anything having to do with the Volt, of course.

      But I would be interested to know about battery off-gassing. My Prius has a gas vent.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      • 5 Years Ago
      Can someone please pull the chord on this POS Turd. I'm sick and tired of hearing of this electric appliance.

      Can it GM, better yet CAN yourself.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Don't cry to me beeeeyatch. It's my opinion. CAN THE TURD.
        • 5 Years Ago
        People, stop replying to 'frank' after this one. That's exactly what he wants you to do, waste your time.

        Get back on the subject.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Why so much angst for something that you can't possibly afford?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Your opinion sucks.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Thank you and stop waisting my time. I have real cars to read about.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I already got 100 stacks in the bank with 40 of em earmarked for the Volt, can't wait.
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