The future of GM’s OnStar could be “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”

OnStar mirror

At CES, OnStar introduced an aftermarket rearview mirror that could widen the company’s reach to 55 million cars, including Ford, Honda and Nissan models. Now that it’s made the move out of General Motors vehicles, we grabbed a moment with Greg Ross, OnStar’s vice president of business extensions, and Vijay Iyer, the firm’s director of corporate communications, at the Detroit Auto Show to see what other ideas are in play for the service.

  • “The brand is well known for safety and security, so we’re looking for other ways to apply that,” Ross said. Personal security and fall detection, such as a device for seniors, are possibilities being looked at. “It could be a safety button or similar device that knows if you’ve fallen down.”
  • OnStar already has a tie to personal safety: as part of a pilot program, it provides crash data to the CDC and the University of Michigan that they can match accident data with medical data. After a crash, “they get a body – they know what a person looks like but they don’t what happened. We add data from the accident so they can piece together the nature of the injuries, such as determining if there could be internal bleeding. It can also help us design safer vehicles, and one of the benefits is that it has given us higher priority access to 9-1-1 since the emergency personnel can be sure of what’s happened.”
  • On the subject of getting OnStar better and more aspirational brand awareness, Ross emphasized that OnStar is already one of the most important features for GM buyers. “We have six million customers in the U.S., Canada and China and 50 percent keep the system when the trial period ends. And OnStar wasn’t the feature dropped in the recession.”
  • Unlike Ford’s SYNC, even though OnStar has features like Facebook integration and Bluetooth based text-to-voice, it doesn’t have voice-activated control of its media features. When asked when that might come, Iyer would only say “The infotainment system will grow.” Ross said, “All manufacturers can catch up with raw features, they’ve become commodities. Trying to figure out the human interface in a manageable way is a big thing, versus rushing things out.”
  • Ross, however, feels that OnStar is fundamentally ahead of the competition because of its integration – the OnStar unit doesn’t rely on communicate through your mobile phone, it is a dedicated communication device with its own phone number. “Devices want to be smart, they want to communicate. But the ability to remotely interact with the car is only possible with embedded technology, and we have that.”

The future of GM’s OnStar could be “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 14 Jan 2011 15:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Spy Shots: Is there a high-riding Chevrolet Sonic in our future?

Filed under: Spy Photos, Crossover, Chevrolet

Chevrolet Sonic CUV spy shots – Click above for high-res image gallery

Not long ago, our spies captured a lifted Ford Fiesta prototype, suggesting that a B-segment crossover might be in the works for Ford. If that’s the case, it looks like the Fiesta CUV will have competition when it hits the streets, as we’ve received this set of spy shots showing a high-riding version of the Chevrolet Aveo Sonic.

Is the Sonic CUV bound for North American soil? Hard to say, but we won’t be crossing our fingers for this one to arrive on our shores. Expect to see the Sonic-based crossover sometime in 2012, with both front- and all-wheel drive versions available, with power supplied by a range of gasoline and diesel engines.

Gallery: Spy Shots: Chevrolet Sonic CUV

[Source: CarPix]

Spy Shots: Is there a high-riding Chevrolet Sonic in our future? originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 11 Jan 2011 19:24:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Detroit 2011: Honda Civic Coupe and Sedan Concepts are visions of a compact future

Filed under: Concept Cars, Detroit Auto Show, Coupe, Budget, Sedan, Honda

2012 Honda Civic Coupe Concept

2012 Honda Civic Coupe Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

Honda dusted off concept versions of the ninth generation Civic Coupe and Sedan at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show today, and the automaker says that along with mildly updated exteriors, both vehicles will wear improved interiors compared to the current-generation Civic. Judging from the history of Honda concepts, there’s a good chance that the production versions of both the four and two-door Civics will be very similar to the vehicles you see above. That means that the Civic Coupe will wear styling influenced heavily by the current Accord Coupe.

Meanwhile, four-door buyers can expect an exterior design very similar to the 2011 Civic. Though the sedan’s front-fascia wears a little bit more menace than the current design, the carried-over grille and headlights are more than a little familiar. Out back, new tail lamps and a re-sculpted trunk deck dominate the view.

Honda says that for the first time, buyers in all 50 states will be able to get their hands on the natural-gas Civic. Previously, the green machine was only available in select markets. Additionally, the Civic Hybrid will now boast lithium-ion batteries as opposed nickel-metal hydride. Hit the jump for the full press release.

Gallery: 2011 Detroit: 2012 Honda Civic Coupe Concept

2012 Honda Civic Coupe Concept2012 Honda Civic Coupe Concept2012 Honda Civic Coupe Concept2012 Honda Civic Coupe Concept2012 Honda Civic Coupe Concept

Gallery: 2011 Detroit: 2012 Honda Civic Concept

2012 Honda Civic Concept2012 Honda Civic Concept2012 Honda Civic Concept2012 Honda Civic Concept2012 Honda Civic Concept

Gallery: 2012 Honda Civic Coupe

2012 Honda Civic Coupe2012 Honda Civic Coupe2012 Honda Civic Coupe2012 Honda Civic Coupe2012 Honda Civic Coupe

Gallery: 2012 Honda Civic Sedan

2012 Honda Civic Sedan2012 Honda Civic Sedan2012 Honda Civic Sedan2012 Honda Civic Sedan2012 Honda Civic Sedan


Live Photos Copyright (C)2011 Zach Bowman / AOL

[Source: Honda]

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Detroit 2011: Honda Civic Coupe and Sedan Concepts are visions of a compact future originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 10 Jan 2011 15:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Future Mitsubishi models may each get their own EV variant

Filed under: Hybrid, Japan, Mitsubishi, Rumormill, Electric

2008 Lancer Evolution

Word on the web is that Mitsubishi is bracing for the electrification of the automobile in a big way. According to Motor Trend, the Japanese automaker is in the midst of developing all of its future products so that they easily support an EV drivetrain or an internal combustion get up. That line of thinking seems to mesh well with the rumors of the upcoming hybrid crossover from Mitsubishi. The lumbering beast will supposedly take plenty of cues from the PX-MiEV that showed up at the 2009 Tokyo Auto Show, with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine working in conjunction with a pair of electric motors.

Additionally, Motor Trend seems to think that the current Montero is a likely platform to adopt a battery pack. The SUV may have died off from the American market, but it’s still alive and kicking in Asia and Europe, and a little help from an electric motor would go a long way toward inching the vehicle’s fuel economy down to more manageable levels.

And what of our beloved Lancer Evolution? From the sounds of things, even it might show up with electron-power in the near future, with the gasoline engine kicking at the rear tires and the front axles spun by a motor or two.

[Source: Motor Trend]

Report: Future Mitsubishi models may each get their own EV variant originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 21 Dec 2010 14:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Volkswagen crafts a London Black Taxi for the future

Filed under: Concept Cars, Work, Volkswagen, UK

Volkswagen London Taxi Concept

Volkswagen London Taxi Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

Volkswagen is putting it’s own unique spin on a London icon. The VW London Taxi Concept, which is built upon the Up! city car platform, is an electric cab with an estimated range of 186 miles. Though the overall length of 3,730 millimeters means the Taxi concept is shorter than a VW Fox, its minimal front and rear overhang allow for plenty of room to accommodate the driver and two full-size adult passengers plus luggage. Inside, the Volkswagen London Taxi Concept features touchscreen displays that provide information on the surrounding area and the route being traveled.

Since this is just a concept, it doesn’t conform to current London taxi regulations. However, it does provide a glimpse at what the future might hold for emission-free urban transportation choices.

Gallery: Volkswagen London Taxi Concept

Volkswagen London Taxi ConceptVolkswagen London Taxi ConceptVolkswagen London Taxi ConceptVolkswagen London Taxi ConceptVolkswagen London Taxi Concept

[Source: Volkswagen]

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Volkswagen crafts a London Black Taxi for the future originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 15 Dec 2010 19:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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National Automotive History Collection dubs Chevy Camaro ‘Collectible Car of the Future’

Filed under: Classics, Coupe, Performance, Chevrolet

2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS

2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS – Click above for high-res image gallery

If you’re looking for the most collectible American-made vehicle on sale right now, you might want to stop by your local Chevrolet dealer. According to the Friends of the National Automotive History Collection, the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro is the most collectible car on sale right now. Each year, members of the organization get together to vote for the single domestically produced car or truck that’s bound to be a good return on investment later down the line. There’s no arguing that the 2010 Camaro is a hot piece of metal, but we could think of a few other vehicles that could have nabbed the honor.

Such as? We’re glad you asked.

If it were us picking, we’d lay a finger on the 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. With the amount of abuse those trucks are designed to take, we can imagine that the future won’t exactly be littered with operational examples, much less show-room quality trucks. Throw the simple fact that Ford will only build a small number of the desert pounders compared to the fleets of Camaro models rolling out of Canada, and you’ve got an even better case for a future moneymaker. But hey, who are we to argue with the group that picked the Chrysler Sebring Convertible as a winner in 1996? Hit the jump for the full press release.

Gallery: Review: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Photos copyright (C)2009 Drew Phillips / AOL

[Source: Detroit Public Library]

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National Automotive History Collection dubs Chevy Camaro ‘Collectible Car of the Future’ originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 14 Dec 2010 13:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Renault-Nissan engines to power future Mercedes, Smart models

Filed under: Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Smart, Renault

The door metaphorically adjoining the offices of Msr. Ghosn and Dr. Zetsche swings both ways. The two executives – heads of Daimler and the Renault-Nissan Alliance respectively – signed a deal that would see the two auto groups collaborating on future products. So far all the reports appear to be benefiting Nissan – including the latest on AMG engines in Infiniti Performance Line models – but the latest indicate a measure of reciprocation.

According to the wire coming in from across the pond, the next generation of Mercedes-Benz A- and B-Class hatchbacks will be powered by Renault-Nissan’s new 128-hp 1.6-liter turbodiesel four. Beyond that, the two auto groups will reportedly begin developing a new range of small engines, similar to the engine program between BMW and PSA Peugeot-Citroën.

Their displacements will, according to reports, range from 1.2 liters to 1.8, cylinder counts from three to four and coming in both gasoline and diesel formats, to be used in a broad range of small cars bearing Mercedes, Smart, Nissan and Renault badges.

[Source: Autocar]

Report: Renault-Nissan engines to power future Mercedes, Smart models originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 08 Dec 2010 15:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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LA 2010: Focus Race Car Concept is the future of Ford racing

Filed under: Concept Cars, LA Auto Show, Motorsports, Performance, Ford, Racing

Ford Focus Race Car Concept

Ford Focus Race Car Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

Ford has pulled the wraps off what it claims is a hint at its future global race car. The Ford Focus race car concept takes the standard 2012 Ford Focus hatchback and preps it nicely for full race duty. This includes gutting the interior, fitting a FIA-approved roll cage, strapping on AST performance coilovers with adjustable dampers and beefing up the sway bars, brakes, wheels and tires.

What’s not beefed up is the turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost inline four-cylinder engine, which is used in the hot-hatch Focus ST where it produces 247 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. Keeping the driver comfortable and in check are a Recaro racing seat, Ford Racing six-point harness and fire-suppression system.

Ford’s goal for the race car concept is to supply private race teams with a competitive entry in a wide variety of racing series around the world. The car conforms to FIA Super 2000 regulations and can be adapted to fit the rules of other governing bodies as well.

The Focus race car concept is set to make its debut at the 2011 British Touring Car Championship. Ford says it also wants to run the Focus in endurance races such as the 24 Hours of Nürburgring. Put on your Nomex, then follow the jump to read the press release.

Gallery: LA 2010: Ford Focus race car concept

LA 2010: Ford Focus race car conceptLA 2010: Ford Focus race car conceptLA 2010: Ford Focus race car conceptLA 2010: Ford Focus race car conceptLA 2010: Ford Focus race car concept

Photos copyright (C)2010 Jeff Glucker / AOL

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LA 2010: Focus Race Car Concept is the future of Ford racing originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 17 Nov 2010 22:27:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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LA 2010: Nissan Ellure concept previews future sedan design

Filed under: Concept Cars, LA Auto Show, Sedan, Nissan

Nissan Ellure concept

Nissan Ellure concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

Nissan calls its Ellure concept “the sedan re-imagined,” previewing what sort of design is possible for its forthcoming four-door range. This concept is at once elegant and aggressive, with styling elements that don’t stray too far from what the automaker is currently putting out. Those headlamps, for example, use the same fin-like design of the taillights on the 370Z and Juke, and are a more forward-thinking version of what we currently see on the Maxima.

Let’s be clear, though – there are plenty of elements on the Ellure that are purely concept car spec. The large, 21-inch wheels and rear-hinged rear doors, for example – stylish and sleek, yes, but hardly practical for future production sedans. The same thing can be said for the interior, which uses suede seats, “floating” headrests, red floors and red pedals (why don’t more cars have these?).

The Ellure is powered by a supercharged 2.5-liter inline-four and a 25-kilowatt electric motor, mated to the automaker’s Xtronic CVT and a front-wheel-drive layout. Nissan says the concept uses regenerative braking and an advanced drive-by-wire electric/hydraulic steering system to ensure that the Ellure is as involving as possible for drivers out on the road.

No, the Ellure won’t be destined for production, but we’re eager to see how this sexy new sedan influences Nissan’s future product portfolio. See it in full high-res glory in the gallery below, and follow the jump for the official press release.

Gallery: LA 2010: Nissan Ellure Concept

Nissan Ellure ConceptNissan Ellure ConceptNissan Ellure Concept

Gallery: Nissan Ellure Concept

Live photos copyright (C)2010 Drew Phillips / AOL

[Source: Nissan]

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LA 2010: Nissan Ellure concept previews future sedan design originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 17 Nov 2010 15:26:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ferrari trots out past and future at Nürburgring

Filed under: Motorsports, Performance, Ferrari, Racing

Retired Ferrari F1 cars take to the Nurburgring – Click above for high-res image gallery

If you’re lucky wealthy enough to own one of Ferrari’s retired works Formula One machines, the automaker’s F1 Client department takes care of maintenance and preparation of your historic racer, whether it be Nigel Mansell’s ex-F190, Michael Schumacher’s championship-winning F2001 or any number of pedigreed prancing ponies.

This week, the crew brought 10 of its most prized possessions out to the Nürburgring so current owners could spend some quality time behind the wheel. And the open wheelers weren’t the only exotic wares in Germany. Four of the Enzo-based FXXs and 15 of the newer 599XXs were on hand, each track-only variant equipped with cutting-edge technologies that the Maranello boffins are experimenting with for future products. The “owners” of these XX models are essentially paying for the privilege of being Ferrari beta testers, but to our eyes, there are worse ways to spend a few days at the Green Hell.

Gallery: Ferrari past at future at the Nurburgring

[Source: Ferrari]

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Ferrari trots out past and future at Nürburgring originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 29 Jul 2010 18:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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