Growth Explosion Predicted in Global Positioning System Users
Shuldiner, Herb, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
The number of drivers using outer space intelligence to get around on Earth will rise dramatically during the 2000 model year. OnStar, a Global Positioning System information highway, expects to experience an explosive growth from its current 75,000 users to nearly 1 million customers.
OnStar, first launched by General Motors in 1996, is a navigational and concierge service that connects a driver and his vehicle to an advisory center in Michigan. A big reason only 75,000 drivers currently use OnStar is that GM has not promoted the system vigorously. That's about to change. Subscribers will soar to almost 1 million in 2000 said Todd Carstensen, an OnStar spokesman.
BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Infiniti and Lincoln-Mercury will also offer similar systems in 2000 models, further swelling the number of vehicle safety and concierge systems in use to about 1.6 million by the end of next year.
OnStar is arguably the most comprehensive of these services. Like its competitors, it uses satellite and cellular phone technology to perform a variety of tasks to assist motorists. Automatic notification of the OnStar center in the event of an accident in which air bags are deployed is one function of OnStar. If a driver gets locked out of the car, a toll-free call to OnStar connects the owner to an operator who verifies the owner's identity and automatically unlocks the vehicle's doors.
OnStar also automatically alerts the center when a car is stolen and has been responsible for a number of thieves being arrested while still in the car. The concierge part of the service enables drivers to request routing and travel information. OnStar personnel can even guide you to the best restaurant or motel in a strange town - and even make reservations for you.
The newest feature in OnStar's bag of tricks is remote diagnosing of a car's mechanical problems. OnStar does this by sending a signal to the vehicle that interrogates the onboard diagnostic system. The operator will receive a series of codes from the system that can be interpreted immediately. …