OnStar, which is a General Motors platform of in-car technologies, was first launched in North America in 1996. Since then it has evolved to its current 10th-generation state, with the Holden vehicles set to run the 11th-generation of the system when the brand launches it locally with the Equinox in 2019.
READ: OnStar Review
The main, and most important, feature of the system is its ability to automatically call for help in the event of an accident (airbag deployment). It automatically connects to local call centre (set to be in Melbourne and create around 30 additional new jobs) in less than five seconds.
Once connected, a trained OnStar assistant will talk to the occupants to determine the nature of the injuries and communicate the whereabouts of the vehicle to emergency services if required. This will happen automatically if there is no response from the occupants.
The vehicle’s GPS system can pinpoint the location of the vehicle down to less than a metre, allowing emergency services immediate access to the vehicle’s exact location.
It also allows for stolen vehicle recovery and shut-down services that disable the vehicle's accelerator and ignition in the event of theft.
Other features include a MyHolden app that allows a remote start, remote air conditioner activation, vehicle health status, and diagnostics. Using the call centre, drivers can also request a destination request which is then remotely sent to the vehicle’s navigation system over 4G LTE.
When it comes to Australia in around 18 months, OnStar will utilise a built-in 4G LTE system inside the vehicle that will connect to the Telstra network. Apart from offering in-car Wi-Fi hotspot, it makes do with a noticeably large antenna on the roof of the vehicles which allows OnStar’s network reception ability to significantly outdo that of a normal smartphone, according to General Motors. This means better coverage in more areas than would otherwise be possible.
Using the MyHolden app will also allow owners to book their vehicle in for servicing and to be informed about any recalls or service requirements for their particular car.
In other markets, General Motors offers a three-tiered payment plan that starts from around $15 a month and goes up to around $40 per month which also includes unlimited Wi-Fi connectivity inside the vehicle. This also varies the level of service and support on offer from OnStar.
We suspect Holden will take the same approach to its OnStar pricing strategy, but that remains some time away from being announced.