Today General Motors released a smartphone applications (app) that will communicate with the upcoming Chevy Volt EV and let owners remotely control functions and features of the vehicle.
In a nutshell, the app connects to OnStar’s servers (termed “the cloud” by the tech gurus), which in turn hook up to your Volt. The entire service uses a real-time data connection to perform all kinds of tasks – from setting the charge time to unlocking the doors. Read on to see specifically what the app can do for you and your Volt.
Here are the various features and functions of the app:
- Displays charge status – plugged in or not, and voltage (120V or 240V)
- Displays percentage of battery charge level, electric and total ranges
- Provides flexibility to “Charge Now” or schedule charge timing
- Allows owner to manually set grid-friendly charge mode for off-peak times when electricity rates are lowest
- Sends text or email notifications for charge reminders, interruptions and full charge
- Displays miles per gallon, electric only miles, and odometer readings
- Shows miles per gallon, EV miles and miles driven for last trip and lifetime
- Remotely start the vehicle to pre-condition the interior temperature
So let’s say you’ve just arrived at work and left the Volt plugged into the electric outlet in the parking garage. Then, from the comfort of your office and your smartphone, you’ll be able to check the charge status and percentage level of the Volt’s battery, see the electric and total ranges, and do the traditional OnStar tasks such as lock and unlock the doors as well as remotely activate the horn and lights. At the end of the day, when it’s time to leave the workplace, you realize that it’s been extremely cold the entire day and that you’d like the interior of your Volt to be nice and warm once you make your way over to the car. So you whip out your smartphone and tell the app to start the Volt remotely – allowing it to heat up while you’re on your way to the parking garage. The coolest part is that the Volt is being heated for you while it’s plugged into the electric outlet, meaning that the capacity of the battery is not depleted, which maximizes environmental benefits of owning a Volt. As you’ve most likely guessed, the same technique can work to cool the car.
The app, which was developed from the ground up deep within GM’s OnStar EV Lab, will also allow you to begin charging the Volt remotely as well as stop the charging process. When the charged command is activated, you will receive a confirmation message on the app (or through a text message or email) that the charge command has been successfully sent to the vehicle. If you can see the Volt in plain site, a green LED charge light on the dash will indicate the charge status.
What’s more, you can use the app to manually set grid-friendly charge modes for off-peak times when electricity rates are lowest. The app will also send text and/or email messages to remind you to charge the Volt, notifications of when the battery pack has been fully charged or when there has been an interruption in the charging process.
You can also opt in to receive a monthly OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics e-mail report with diagnostics information about the unique characteristics of the Volt as well as maintenance information currently received by OnStar subscribers.
Besides in-app access through the three aforementioned smartphones, OnStar will also provide the features through the Volt owner website, which will allow many of the same capabilities as the mobile application along with more in-depth information on the vehicle’s history.
As would be expected, the OnStar subscription for the Volt will include the safety, security, and peace of mind services that OnStar has become known for – including Automatic Crash Response, Turn-by-Turn Navigation, Hands-Free Calling, and Stolen Vehicle Assistance.
The demo apps for the Motorola Droid, Blackberry Storm, and Apple iPhone are already available for download at OnStarMobileDemo.com. And while GM says that the app is only approved for use with those three smartphones, we don’t see a reason why it can’t be used on other Google Android and RIM Blackberry devices, such as the recently-announced Google Nexus One or the popular Blackberry Bold.
The GM Authority Take
OnStar has always been a major point of innovation at GM and this app moves that level of innovation forward by an immeasurable amount. With smartphone apps being just the rage these days, this may seem as just an another app in your arsenal of apps.
But this is so much bigger more than any single app: GM has just set the playing field in connecting vehicles to the Internet – a trend I only think will accelerate over the next few years and in the foreseeable future. On top of that, the existence of this app and the functionality it brings makes the Chevy Volt that much more revolutionary and worth the “premium” compared to other battery-assisted vehicles.
OnStar is currently available in the United States, Canada, and certain countries in Latin America. It was just launched in China in December 2009. As such, I expect the apps to function anywhere the service is available.
In the end, all this begs the question: how far away are we from having this OnStar app working with all GM vehicles? Keep in mind that all GM products are equipped with OnStar and cellular connectivity standard, so it wouldn’t take GM that much effort to implement this feature across its entire product portfolio.
Check out the app in action in the gallery below.
Motorola Droid, Blackberry Storm
OnStar App - iPhone
And here’s GM’s full press release:
Chevrolet and OnStar Give Volt Owners 24/7 Connection and Control via Wireless Smartphone Application
- Chevrolet Volt First Electric Vehicle to Demonstrate Wireless Smartphone Application
- Volt showcases technology beyond the battery with OnStar Mobile Application
- OnStar created a mobile application for Volt that provides drivers custom services and added control
- Charging Volt is easy, convenient and efficient with OnStar Mobile Application technology
LAS VEGAS – Chevrolet and OnStar unveiled the auto industry’s first working smartphone application that will allow Chevrolet Volt owners 24/7 connection and control of vehicle functions and OnStar features remotely.
OnStar’s Mobile Application allows drivers to communicate with their Volt from Droid by Motorola, Apple iPhone and Blackberry Storm smartphones. It uses a real-time data connection to perform tasks from setting the charge time to unlocking the doors.
The Chevrolet Volt OnStar smartphone application is designed to enhance the overall Volt ownership experience with interaction and control never offered before on any electric vehicle. The application:
- displays charge status – plugged in or not, and voltage (120V or 240V)
- provides flexibility to “Charge Now” or schedule charge timing
- displays percentage of battery charge level, electric and total ranges
- allows owner to manually set grid-friendly charge mode for off-peak times when electricity rates are lowest
- sends text or email notifications for charge reminders, interruptions and full charge
- displays miles per gallon, electric only miles, and odometer readings
- shows miles per gallon, EV miles and miles driven for last trip and lifetime
- remotely start the vehicle to pre-condition the interior temperature
“The Chevrolet Volt ushers in a new era of automotive technology and calls for a new level of connectivity and control,” said Walt Dorfstatter, president, OnStar. “Nearly 6 million vehicles on the road today use OnStar to stay connected, and our new smartphone app will make that even easier for Volt drivers.”
OnStar’s real-time data connection also helps drivers maximize the environmental benefits of owning a Volt, even when not in the vehicle. The application’s intuitive Charge Status feature simplifies setting the charge time. Rather than using battery power, the application allows owners to start the Volt remotely to pre-condition the interior temperature using power from the grid. This preserves the battery charge for driving without gasoline.
When a charge command is activated, the Volt owner will receive a confirmation message on the application alerting the owner that a command has been successfully sent to the vehicle. If in view of the Volt, a green LED charge light on the dash will indicate the charge state.
Traditional OnStar features such as door lock, unlock and remote horn and lights – which have typically been accessible only through a call into the OnStar call center – will now be available via the application.
OnStar Mobile was developed from the ground-up by engineers in the OnStar EV Lab. In addition to this work, the team is leveraging OnStar’s connectivity to the vehicle to gather real-time data about development models of the Volt as they are tested. OnStar engineers then share this real-time data with the Volt engineering team to speed the development process and help ensure quality at the start of production.
Demonstration applications for the Motorola Droid and Blackberry Storm will be available at OnStarMobileDemo.com beginning 10 p.m., EST, January 5. The demonstration application for the Apple iPhone will be available on the iTunes store on January 6.
Volt’s OnStar mobile application will also be available on a mobile browser for other internet-capable phones. Volt drivers can also view and manage vehicle systems and commands from the vehicle, the internet or through a monthly OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics e-mail.
Volt owners can opt-in to receive a monthly OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics e-mail report with diagnostics on the unique characteristics of an electric vehicle with extended range, as well as the maintenance information current OnStar subscribers receive. OnStar will also provide the connection for the Volt owner website, which will allow many of the same capabilities as the mobile application along with more in depth information on the vehicle’s history.
The OnStar subscription for the Chevrolet Volt will also include the safety, security and peace of mind services currently available to OnStar’s subscribers including Automatic Crash Response, Turn-by-Turn Navigation, Hands-Free Calling and Stolen Vehicle Assistance.
The Volt is an electric vehicle with extended-range capability. It is designed to drive up to 40 miles on electricity without using gasoline or producing tailpipe emissions. When the Volt’s lithium-ion battery is depleted of energy, an engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the total driving range to about 300 miles before refueling or stopping to recharge the battery.
OnStar Mobile Application will be available for Volt owners at launch. Production for the Volt is scheduled to begin in late 2010. Pricing has not been announced. For more information about Volt, visit http://media.gm.com/volt.
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