General Motors is making moves to offer insurance plans under its data-focused OnStar connected services, which is convenient since the feature comes equipped on all new models the company sells inside North America. Participating customers will be required to allow the automaker to track their driving behavior in real-time. As a perk for handing over their right to privacy, GM will offer discounts to motorists that never exceed the speed limit or accidentally roll through a stop sign.
It’s part of a usage-based insurance trend that’s becoming increasingly common within the industry. It started years ago with customers agreeing to have insurers install tracking devices in their vehicles in exchange for lower rates — assuming they displayed what the agency deemed safe driving practices throughout the duration. But, now that cars are becoming connected to the internet, this can be done automatically with on-board technologies. Consumer advocacy groups are growing worried that insurers will eventually make vehicle tracking mandatory and use it as an excuse to issue predatory fees.
Frankly, so are we.
General Motors is recalling around 128,500 vehicles in the United States over a previous fix that didn’t work as intended. The cars stem from a larger December callback that aimed, via a software flash, to mitigate braking problems on about 550,000 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Cadillac CT6, and GMC Sierra 1500 models from 2019. GM says the solution created issues on about a third of them.
The problems are much the same as before. Affected vehicles may have serious braking issues and have their anti-lock braking system (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC) fail. At least this time the computer will know enough to indicate a problem via the vehicle’s warning lights. In the previous recall, GM said the vehicles’ diagnostic system would not illuminate the instrument cluster to hint that something was amiss.
With automotive connectivity kicking down the door to new sources of revenue, General Motors’ OnStar has already undergone a few changes since its debut in 1997 model-year Cadillacs. We’ve criticized some of the most recent ones, annoyed that GM is trying to utilize driving data to turn people into both master and slave. Last year, CEO Mary Barra said the automaker would expand into areas “that will generate revenue and profitability as we leverage the connectivity and then the ability to monetize data both in the vehicle and sharing it with other companies.”
While we can’t say we’re fond of her position, it’s likely to make the company heaps of cash. Tweaking automobiles to emit a constant stream of data back to headquarters does have its advantages, and businesses are, unsurprisingly, keen to capitalize on them. On Thursday, General Motors announced the launch of OnStar Vehicle Insights — a new telematics tool for fleet owners and operators.
The new management service seems cool, but the foundation it’s built upon might make you a bit uneasy. And it’s technically already inside your vehicle, assuming you own a GM product that’s less than five years old. You just have to pay to gain access.
Automakers began hunting for new revenue streams about two milliseconds after realizing they could put the internet into vehicles. While the earliest endeavors involved ride-sharing applications and new infotainment features, companies are now beginning to see new opportunities via automotive e-commerce, data acquisition, and in-car marketing.
However, the delivery system used for these new sources of revenue pose a legitimate safety concern. Distracted driving is on the rise and shopping while behind the wheel isn’t likely to remedy the situation.
When General Motors first deployed OnStar, it was a little more than an emergency services hotline. Drivers in need could tap a blue button on their rearview mirror and immediately get in contact with an operator. The system could also do this automatically in the event of a crash. OnStar later introduced anti-theft measures, turn-by-turn navigation, and remote access as part of a subscription plan.
However, with General Motors seeing dollar signs wherever connectivity is involved, the automaker wants to retool the system. OnStar will continue offering existing services, but GM is changing the subscription model and placing a new emphasis on data acquisition. The good news is that the tiered payment model will offer more features starting in May. Unfortunately, some those amenities used to be free and those fed up with companies selling your data or paranoid about Orwellian Big Brother scenarios might be less enthusiastic about the long-term corporate vision.
General Motors is teaming up with IBM to implement Watson’s artificial intelligence so that it can advertise while you are trying to drive. Your dashboard is about to become a billboard.
That, Uber delivers a truckload of beer using a self-driving vehicle, Mini’s Countryman gains size and compatibility with electricity, and Hyundai’s earnings tank… after the break!
We told you — yea, we even showed you — that the most basic 2016 Chevrolet Spark you can buy has manual locks, but also a power lock.
Fascinated? We were. After driving around in a car with manual locks that automatically locked its driver’s door at 8 miles per hour and unlocked its driver’s door when the key was removed from ignition, we were spooked and amazed and perplexed. We asked GM for comment but initially did not hear back.
Now we have.
General Motors this month filed a patent application for a navigation system that can gauge how effective it is in
frustrating guiding drivers based on their eye movements and how well those drivers follow directions.
The patent application filed Dec. 3 details a navigation system that watches “visual focus, the driver vocalizations and the driver emotions, along with vehicle system parameters from a data bus … to evaluate driver satisfaction with navigation guidance and determine driver behavior.”
“You missed our last turn, Aaron.”
I know, OnStar. We’re going off course.
“I don’t like how that sounds, Aaron.”
Take me to the nearest hole in the desert, OnStar.
J.D. Power and Associates on Tuesday released its study of in-car technology that showed many new car buyers either don’t use features available on their car or aren’t aware they exist.
According to the study, at least 20 percent of buyers haven’t used 16 of 33 features targeted by the study, including in-vehicle concierge services such as OnStar (43 percent); mobile Internet connectivity (38 percent); automatic parking aids (35 percent); heads-up displays (33 percent); and apps (32 percent).
Owners said their smartphones probably do all those things better, and who has time to learn systems when you have to text and drive anyway?
Two men say they’ve managed to shut off a Tesla Model S at low speeds, proving that no car is actually safe on the streets anymore and we should all go back to driving Chevrolet Vegas.
The hack, which was reported by the Financial Times and detailed exhaustively by Wired, requires physical access to the car’s infotainment system to exploit the vulnerability. The car can then be remotely disabled.
Similar to hackers who recently said they could start and stop OnStar-enabled vehicles, the two men who broke into Tesla’s software said they presented their findings to the automaker and Tesla released a patch for its cars Thursday. Last month, a vulnerability in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Uconnect system forced the automaker to recall 1.4 million cars.
Not content with scaring the bejesus out of Chrysler owners, Wired has uncovered a hacker who says he can open a GM car with OnStar, start it or track it remotely. The only thing he can’t do is put the car in gear or steer it, which still requires a key.
Hacker Samy Kamkar says his $100 device can seriously annoy — or seriously rob — a GM car owner if he wanted it to. GM promptly responded by saying it fixed the flaw in a way that owners won’t have update their cars.
Kamkar said his exploit wasn’t mean to cause mayhem, but rather to show how modern, technological cars can be vulnerable to hackers.
Remote unlocking of your car’s doors via your smartphone , activating horn and lights and remote start, previously part of GM’s paid OnStar service, is becoming a standard feature, GM says. Buy the car, download the app, and the car can be remote-controlled via your smartphone for five years, whether you pay for OnStar, or not. “Thirty-six 2014 model year GM vehicles are compatible with the RemoteLink mobile app,” says GM in a press release, meaning that most of GM’s new cars are permanently on-line, can be reached, tracked, can reveal their locations, OnStar, or not, ignition on, or not.
Check her rear
Not only will GM’s OnStar switch from the allegedly ultra-reliable and most dense Verizon network to the allegedly not-so reliable and not-so-dense AT &T network, as Reuters reports. It will also “make each of its cars an Internet hotspot with a high-speed broadband connection,” as Automotive News has it.
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- SilverCoupe Do the real cars self-dent when hit by the virtual ones?
- SCE to AUX From the SAE: https://www.sae.org/blog/sae-j3016-updateFor Level 3: "When the feature requests, you must drive."The timing of that request will be the subject of lawsuits. Too little warning, and this is just a Level 2 system wearing nicer clothes.Pretty car, though.
- Analoggrotto So, who has the digital Tourettes?
- Analoggrotto Mercedes can try but will NEVER match the superlative engineering of TESLA. The #1 Choice for the #1 members of society. The lower class can stay on earth and drive Mercedes.
- Dukeisduke The "fix" is not a fix - it just assures that when the o-ring breaks down and leaks brake fluid onto the board, the fuse will blow and the car won't burn to the ground. The HECU ("Hydraulic Unit Assembly" in H/K parlance) will still be dead, and you'll have no ABS or ESC. So the car won't burn to the ground, but you'll be looking at an expensive repair. I priced the HECU (Kia p/n 58920-1M640) for the 2012 Forte Koup - the MSRP is $2,325.79, and I can get one from the online seller I buy from for $1646.65. It's not much labor to replace, but then you have to bleed the brakes, or preferably flush the system, since the car's 11 years old and could use a flush. Folks relying on a dealer will be out $3k or more for repairs.I went to the NHTSA site and filed a defect report (the only way I could find to comment on the recall) to tell them that they should force H/K to replace the HECUs on all the affected vehicles, instead of allowing them to just do the minimum.