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OnStar Leverages Google Android and Maps Technology for Chevrolet Volt Mobile Applications

OnStar is working with Google’s Android and Maps technologies to enhance the navigation capabilities of the Volt mobile app. Click to enlarge.

OnStar is leveraging Google technology to develop a number of new mobile application features to provide Volt customers with the most connected vehicle experience possible. OnStar will debut and demonstrate new functionalities it is developing for the Chevrolet Volt mobile application leveraging the Android platform at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco, starting 19 May.

A new “navigation” tab has been added to the home screen of the existing Chevrolet Volt mobile app on the Android smartphone. When a Volt owner presses this tab, he or she will be able to see the current location of their Volt pinpointed on Google Maps, as well as their location relative to it. From this map screen, owners can use Google search by voice to vocally search for a destination with their Android handset, and see where that destination is related to the Volt’s current location.

They can then elect to send the destination from their Android phone to their Volt and have OnStar Turn-By-Turn directions to their destination waiting for them when they start the vehicle. Additionally, the owner will also have the option to get voice-guided directions to their vehicle from their current location, using Google Maps Navigation.

The new functionalities won’t be available on the Volt mobile app at launch, but are planned for a 2.0 version.

While OnStar will never lose sight of our core focus on safety and security, this relationship is an example of how we’re evolving our leadership position in connected vehicle technology. What we’re talking about today is only the beginning.

—Chris Preuss, OnStar president

The smartphone mobile application for the Chevrolet Volt made its debut at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show and is planned to launch in tandem with the Volt this fall. (Earlier post.) Launch features include:

  • Charge status display – plugged in or not and voltage (120V or 240V)
  • Flexibility to “Charge Now” or schedule charge timing
  • Display percentage of battery charge level, electric and total ranges
  • Ability to manually set grid-friendly charge mode for off-peak times when electricity rates are lowest
  • Send text or email notifications for charge reminders, interruptions and full charge
  • Display miles per gallon, electric only miles, and odometer readings
  • Shows miles per gallon, EV miles and miles driven for last trip and lifetime
  • Remotely start the vehicle to pre-condition the interior temperature



These are "gadget head" applications that give early adopter nerds something to tinker with. They will serve as platforms to show off their new toy to friends and neighbors all of which may help sell the cars.

This application makes it sound like the vehicle owner may not know where his car is or whose at the wheel. It's essentially a geo-locate LowJack. GM should contract with some hot shot silicon valley programmers of smart phones to develop a set of apps that appeal to the geek squad Volt owners. e.g. a Volt tracker app that notifies owners of approaching Volt compatriots. A Volt owner social network.

Early Prius owners formed bonds based solely on their adoption of a vehicle expressing lifestyle choices. When I drove my Prius other Prius owners would flash lights or honk and wave - to say "Hello friend." It's likely Volt owners will follow a similar pattern. People enjoy joining clubs to make them feel special. They also like kicking recalcitrants out of their clubs if they don't follow rules.

OnStar technology allows for some interesting social network applications specific to vehicle location and ownership.

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