General Motors adds Internet service to vehicles

Automakers are eager to make Web-friendly cars, and GM is looking for whatever competitive edge it can get.

By Jonathan Berr Feb 25, 2013 5:44PM
General Motors Corp. headquarters in Detroit (Paul Sancya/AP Photo)General Motors (GM) is betting that consumers have a need for speed of the Internet variety.

The largest U.S. automaker will start adding Internet service to its vehicles, offering 4G LTE access starting next year in conjunction with AT&T (T) through its OnStar feature. The offering will first be available in the U.S. and Canada on most 2015 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models.

Mary Chan, president of GM’s Global Connected Consumer, told Bloomberg News that the company was undertaking the largest 4G commercial deployment in the auto industry.

Detroit's GM is looking for whatever competitive edge it can get, particularly in North America where it expects to earn most of its profits as the European market continues to struggle. As Bloomberg noted, LTE users can load videos and stream music as much as 10 times faster than with 3G.

GM's service will let people tap into in-vehicle hotspots to download videos and applications, making it ideal for parents who want to entertain young children on long car trips with iPads and other devices.

Getting people to pay for the service once the initial trial period ends, however, may be a challenge, according to Ronald Montoya, consumer advice editor at Edmunds.com.

"At the end of the day, someone is going to have to pay for this and it's usually the consumer," he said in an interview with MSN Money, adding that many consumers drop OnStar once its free trial expires.

Whether consumers will want another Internet access bill remains to be seen, though many people are interested in having greater connectivity in their vehicles.

Chrysler Uconnect is making 3G technology available in the 2013 Ram 1500 pickup, the 2013 SRT Viper, the 2014 SRT and Jeep Grand Cherokees. The service is being offered in partnership with Sprint (S).
 
"Chrysler Group is constantly exploring the most innovative ways to accommodate connectivity -- mindful of the fact that driving is the primary reason our customers are behind the wheel, " said Eric Mayne, a company spokesman, in an email.

Ford Motor (F) is pursuing a different strategy. It wants users to connect mobile devices to the Internet through its Sync on-board entertainment system. Sync has been available since 2007 and was given Wi-Fi capability in 2010.

Audi also offers a hot spot in its top-of-the-line A3 sedan. More offerings are sure to come.

"That's a really big selling point with younger buyers," Montoya said.

GM couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

--Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

 

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9Comments
Feb 25, 2013 7:37PM
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Yeah,  just what drivers need - something else to do while driving.  I also like the headlight commercials where they want you to upgrade your headlights to be twice as bright so you can see, ignoring the fact that you will blind everyone else on the road and they may die or kill you because they can't see.  It doesn't matter, as long as they can sell you something.
Feb 25, 2013 10:46PM
Feb 26, 2013 3:38AM
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The idiots are running the asylum! We have enough irresponsible, egotistical drivers using the cell phones to talk and text  and causing accidents while they should be concentrating on the road.
But that's not enough--GM wants to add Internet?

I can hear it now: "But officer, I didn't mean to kill those people. I was surfing the net for a new video for my child/myself/whatever. It's not my fault I was distracted."

Jerry said it right: Goofy Mothers!

Feb 26, 2013 7:54AM
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Wow now you can crash twice in the same day do they have insurance for that?
Feb 25, 2013 7:15PM
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Oh so instead of putting everyone else at risk on the road by texting, now they will be able to also surf the web, read articles, possibly cmment too and put all other drivers and passengers at a higher risk.

 

How irresponsible of GM!

Feb 25, 2013 8:02PM
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"Detroit's GM is looking for whatever competitive edge it can get...", sorry, but GM hasn't been competitive since the 1960's. They should not still be in existence today after what happened to them in '08. It's ridiculous hearing about 'another internet access bill' when nobody can afford anything in the first place. Go to your local library where wifi is free, read a book, educate yourself instead of being a moving chicane out on the roadways.
Feb 25, 2013 6:49PM
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MORE CRAP YOU DON'T NEED ON YOUR CAR AND MORE EXPENSIVE STICKER PRICE AND REPAIR BILLS! F GMC THE OBAMA

MOTOR COMPANY AND THEIR CRAPPY CARS ESPECIALLY THE TOXIC BATTERY EXPENSIVE VOLT!

Feb 25, 2013 8:47PM
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Yawn..... ANYTHING made by G.M. isn't on my radar .... their fit, finish and quality needs to be addressed ...not more 'carnival' gadgets.
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