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Speed is About More Than Horsepower, With New 4G Connections

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(GM Photo)

(GM Photo)

jeffgilbert Jeff Gilbert
Automotive reporter for WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBS Radio News....
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LAS VEGAS — (WWJ) Four of Chevrolet’s most important vehicles will be the first to get direct 4G connections to the Internet.

GM using the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to announce that the 2015 versions of the Malibu, Impala, Volt and Corvette will have the high speed connectivity, which will quickly be expanded to the rest of the fleet.

“We recognize that people have a digital life,” said Tim Nixon, who leads GM’s connectivity team. “It’s in their pocket. It’s in their purse. They are going to want to bring into the car, and they are going to want to bring that to life in the car.”

The car maker will offer data plans with AT and T. The connectivity will allow advanced diagnostics for the vehicle, new apps that can give more information to the driver, and make the car or truck a rolling wireless hotspot, that allows passengers to connect devices via WiFi. The speed will be fast enough to allow streaming videos on passengers tablets or smart phones.

Nixon says GM is also reaching out to developers to come up with new apps that are designed specifically to work in vehicles, in a safe manner.

“It’s not really about the quantity of apps,” he said. “It’s about the quality of them, and how does it really advance the driving experience and the vehicle ownership experience.”

An initial list of planned apps announced today includes Vehicle Health, iHeartRadio, Priceline.com, The Weather Channel, NPR, Slacker Radio, TuneIn Radio, Cityseeker, Eventseeker, Glympse and Kaliki. More will be added later.

“The built-in 4G LTE connection will allow our vehicles to be updated with the latest software and apps,” said Mary Chan, president, GM’s Global Connected Consumer. “This means that the driver’s vehicle infotainment systems can keep getting better after purchase as customers can continue to add on and customize their features.”

The fast connectivity will work with a new generation of Onstar, which will allow more advanced diagnostic information to be sent from the vehicle to repair shops or emergency responders.

“We are focused on constantly improving the OnStar service so that the system continues to remain a trusted value-add for GM drivers,” said Terry Inch, chief operating officer, OnStar. “4G LTE will enable the most powerful OnStar connection ever.”

Moat of what GM will be offering is already being offered on smart phones and portable devices that can be brought into the car. But embedding the connectivity in the vehicle, GM is hoping that drivers are willing to pay for an experience that’s more seamless, more robust, and much easier to use.

“Chevrolet is expected to implement the broadest deployment of 4G LTE in the automotive industry,” said Alan Batey, senior vice president of Global Chevrolet. “The fact that OnStar with 4G LTE will be available in models that range from the Chevrolet Spark to the Silverado to the Corvette, is indicative of our broad commitment to deliver more value and convenience through smart technology applications. This new, purposeful technology solution will make our consumers lives easier to connect.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Email: jdgilbert@cbs.com
Facebook: facebook.com/carchronicles
Twitter: @jefferygilbert

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