General Motors, fresh off announcing its first profitable quarter in almost three years and with potential government funding, is keeping the good news rolling. The company is revealing today that it will integrate Google’s Android operating system into existing OnStar technology in its highly-anticipated plug-in Chevrolet Volt, due out this fall.
GM seems to be betting a lot of chips on the success of the Volt, which has so far been successfully marketed as the green consumer vehicle (even more so than the Nissan Leaf, despite that company’s valiant PR efforts and attractive pricing). The decision to team with Google, is just more evidence that GM plans to add younger, tech savvy customers to its base with a fresh portfolio of products and applications.
Android will serve up several new features to the OnStar system: voice recognition generated turn-by-turn directions (delivered directly from Google maps); car location tracking from mobile phones (in case it is lost or stolen); and advanced emergency options.
Providing smartphone capabilities isn’t a new idea for the Volt, which will already offer applications showing drivers how much battery power they have left and allowing them to allowing them to charge their cars remotely (when they’re plugged into a charging station) by simply pushing a button on their phones. They can also see what kind of gas mileage they are getting when they switch over from battery power.
The move puts General Motors in direct competition with Ford, which has also been innovating on the same themes with its in-car Sync connectivity system. But it also looks like mobile software companies such as Google, Microsoft and Apple will be duking it out to claim a piece of the automotive market.
Just as General Motors has chosen Google, Ford has buddied up with Microsoft to give drivers voice-command controls over their GPS and entertainment systems. And just last month, Ford announced that Microsoft would be applying its Hohm energy management platform to let users monitor and manage the vehicle charging process. Notably, its media system works with Apple iPods and iPhones.
GM will be showing off its Android application for the Volt at Google’s I/O conference in San Francisco tomorrow. This doesn’t mean it plans to work exclusively with the Google operating system — the company has already showed off Chevy Volt applications that work on the iPhone and Blackberry as well.
[Image via Cnet]