In-Car Tech

OnStar adds fleet telematics solution for managers and drivers

Fleet managers can access their vehicles' information from a desktop or laptop computer, or a tablet.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

Ford Commercial Solutions already offered connected fleet telematics insights to owners and now General Motors is getting in on the game with OnStar Vehicle Insights. The software solution has just become available and relays real-time vehicle data.

"We listened to our fleet customers' feedback and have created a turnkey telematics solution," said Ed Peper, U.S. vice president, General Motors Fleet. "OnStar Vehicle Insights helps simplify the fleet management process, allowing our fleet customers, large and small, to save time and money."

OnStar Insights screen SUV truck car Chevrolet Cadillac GMC OnStar Insights allows fleet managers to have the tools that they need at their fingertips.Photo courtesy of General Motors

The OnStar system features a number of insights designed to give business owners and fleet managers a better understanding of their fleet's operational efficiency.

Features include:

  • Vehicle Locator - View the location of all fleet vehicles in real time.
  • Vehicle Health - View vehicle mileage, oil life and fuel efficiency, as well as receive preventative service prompts and maintenance notifications.
  • Driver Performance - View driver behaviors and trips taken, and receive safety alerts around specific events, like exceeding a specified speed limit.
  • Business Insights - View a simplified performance dashboard that aggregates data and presents trends that are helpful for business operation.

There are also a number of tools available:

  • Remote Commands - Lock, unlock and remote start a vehicle from the OnStar Vehicle Insights website instead of waiting on a locksmith.
  • Trip Summaries - Maintain and reference trip history in an organized manner.
  • Driving Performance - Drivers can view their driving behaviors, like hard-braking events, as well as their driver performance score, so they are aware of any behaviors that need improvement.

"This is just the beginning for OnStar Vehicle Insights," said Michelle Calloway, head of OnStar Vehicle Insights, GM Global Innovation. "We plan to expand our service offerings over time, including the addition of mixed fleet compatibility, so even more customers will have the ability to experience the benefits of our telematics solution in the future."

OnStar Insights fleet management software GMC Chevrolet Cadillac Fleet mangers can see what their vehicles are doing at any time.Photo courtesy of General Motors

OnStar Vehicle Insights is compatible with most 2015 model year and newer Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles. This does not include the Volt, City Express vans, Low Cab Forward Trucks, and GM vehicles built without OnStar hardware including some base Chevrolet and GMC truck models.

OnStar Vehicle Insights costs $15.99 per vehicle, per month. No long term contract is required. The cost does not include OnStar emergency or security services.

The Cruise Origin self-driving vehicle has been revealed.

Photo courtesy of Cruise LLC

Cruise has passed on a steering wheel, a rearview mirror, and pedals in its new Origin electric vehicle. The ride share mobility solution debuted last night in San Francisco was co-developed by the arm of General Motors in cooperation with Honda.

In addition to the self-driving aspect of the news, the biggest innovation with the vehicle is that it is nothing like the any other GM alternative fuel mobility solution. There's not really speck of Bolt in the design.

It's actually more like the Navy shuttle than the Bolt, resembling the most modern of train cars. Its exterior is smooth and not aerodynamic. Its sliding doors open wide via a sliding mechanism rather than outward like a traditional car door. There's a display area featuring a number on the outside of the vehicle to help with rider-vehicle identification.

The Origin is the same size as a full-size sedan but seats six in a different configuration than the typical car. It has a 78-inch height, which means it can still park in most garages.

Inside, the vehicle seats six on two sets of three seats that share a large space for legroom and bags.

What's more notable is what the Origin is lacking. There's no driver's seat, pedals, steering wheel, windshield wipers, gauges, nor rearview mirror. Because there's no driver, there's no need for that. Cruise has said that the vehicle features SAE Level 4 autonomy. In layman's terms, that means that a computer controls all the functionality of the vehicle and is contained within its service area only by things like a speed limiter or geofence.

Its software has been co-developed by GM and Honda.

Cruise hasn't divulged powertrain or range information.

In January, the federal government released a new set of guidelines concerning self-driving vehicles.

Under Cruise's plans, no individual will own the Origin. The ride sharing vehicles will be summoned via an app and offer ride service to anywhere in the vehicle's service area. The defined regions of the service area and fares associated with a ride have yet to be announced.

So, it's just an app-controlled electric short bus, right? Yes.

Cruise says that the model is ready for production and plans to that end will be announced shortly.

A new technology developed by General Motors may change the trailering experience as we know it, making it safer for everyone involved.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

For some folks, towing a trailer is second nature. It's like riding a bicycle or going for a swim. But for a vast majority of others, towing can be intimidating, scary and even downright dangerous. No matter what category you fall into, truck makers have been working feverishly to come up with new and exciting technologies to make towing easier and safer for you.

One of the biggest challenges of towing, at least at speed, is the abrupt need to come to a stop. Whether it be someone pull out in front of you or the traffic light turned red sooner than you'd expect. Towing down a grade in high winds can create even more issues.

eBoost braking assist trailer This diagram shows the impact of the new eBoost technology.Photo courtesy of General Motors

To help with towing and stopping, electronic trailer brake controllers are common on rigs that tow. They help control the trailer by apply the brakes in the trailer. Setting up a trailer brake control is often described as an art, not a science.

That's where new General Motors tech comes in. Using their electronic brake system from their heavy-duty pickup, the company has fitted it to a trailer for the purpose of improving braking. Their goal was to equip a trailer with the company's eBoost braking system and see how well they could stop with it.

Their goal was to take a 2020 Silverado HD without a trailer and see how far it took to stop. Then they attached a trailer with 9,000 pounds and set a target of stopping in the same distance. They were within three feet.

That means in a full-on, emergency stop scenario a truck towing a 9,000-pound trailer can stop as short as a truck without a trailer. Not to overwhelm you with hyperbole, but that is a game changer.

Why? There's no complicated setup of the trailer brake controller. The equipment already exists, and GM managed to do it with around $1,000 worth of hardware that's already available. It would require a trailer manufacturer to integrate it with their trailers, but the safety benefits are huge.

Unlike some aftermarket anti-lock braking systems, primarily from Bosch, this system communicates with the truck, and can even use electronic stability control to reduce trailer sway.

It's a prototype at this point. GM is hoping to find a trailer maker to help develop the technology. The marketing department is still figuring out all of the details, but in addition to offering it on a brand-new trailer, it might even be possible for certain dealerships or installers to add it to existing trailers after the fact.

While there is a truck war going on with how can tow and haul the most, the efforts that GM is making right now for improving towing safety, such as their invisible trailering system and this prototype trailer brake system, makes the roads safer for everyone – even if they don't drive a GM.