OnStar Mobile App Will Help Volt Owners Manage Their Power

At CES this year OnStar announced a mobile app for the iPhone and Android that will allow owners of the new Chevy Volt to monitor and interact with their vehicles remotely.

To start off the app will be closely tied with the Volt in an effort to get the most out of Chevy’s new electric vehicle.  The app will allow users to:

  • 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

Obviously Chevy is working hard to enable Volt owners to get the most out of their vehicles.  I have to assume that if you’re one of the people out there that will have a Volt soon after they roll off the line you’re also the type to use your iPhone to schedule it’s charging.

The plug-in electric is an interesting situation… When you pull an internal combustion engine into the garage you can generally rest assured that when you come back it’ll have the same amount of fuel.  With an electric vehicle the time it spends stopped has to be used to recharge the vehicle.  So, if you’re charging your car overnight and the fuse blows on the circuit your vehicle is charging on you need to know about…and if you don’t, you’re going to be stranded wishing you could drop a handful of AA batteries into the glovebox and be on your way (the Volt has a gas generator that will charge the batteries to avoid this situation, but you get the point).

In addition to helping make sure the vehicle is charging properly the mobile application also helps users get the most out of the charge they have.  By allowing owners to remote the start the vehicle they can run the heaters while connected to the power grid thereby minimizing the impact to the overall vehicle range.

Another smart little feature is that owners can schedule charging times to coincide with off-peak power prices (I have no idea how much $ that saves, but I bet it’s a good bit over the life of the vehicle).  The OnStar service does cost $199 a year though it will be free for some period of time for new owners (probably at least a year).

I know the OnStar system has some always-on power requirements and I have to assume that these features add to those requirements.  I wonder what that power drain actually is… If you’re accessing your car remotely often do you have to worry about draining the battery?  Also, it’s worth noting that as with the entire OnStar system users are subject to the whims of the cellular reception gods (if your car can’t get service you can’t get access).  So, those charging stations in parking structures could be a problem.

Independent of the Volt this type of app is a natural progression for OnStar and a fair indication of what we can expect from other systems in the future.  I’m sure Ford Sync would like to do something like this right now, but without a built in mobile broadband device it’s not entirely feasible.  Other OEMs with embedded telematics systems like OnStar will have to follow suite eventually whether or not it is for an electric vehicle.  By allowing access to services like remote door unlock through the phone OnStar has actually reduced their cost of delivering that service by cutting out the call center (always a significant part of the expense of delivering these services).

Chevy has enabled a nice little package of features in a clean interface that really do seem to add value to the electric vehicle ownership experience (not to mention the added branding benefits of increased engagement from your user based).  It’ll be interesting to see what additional features are enabled through this app and to see how competitors respond.  In fact, Mercedes and Hughes Telematics have already released some mobile access applications called ‘mbrace’.  We’ll talk more about that later.

Be Sociable, Share!

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress