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Intelligent vehicles hit the road
News Time: 12 March, 2011
BEIJING — Lost in his Cadillac SLS on a foggy night on the outskirts of Chengdu, Sichuan province, a driver surnamed Cao desperately needed help finding his way home.

Remembering his car was equipped with GM’s OnStar communications system, he quickly pushed a button on his vehicle’s rearview mirror and was promptly connected with an operator that offered turn-by-turn navigation to get him out of his predicament.

While this is but one example of how the newly introduced technology in China could work for GM car owners, other domestic carmakers are also adding the technology to their vehicles.

OnStar Corporation is a subsidiary of General Motors that provides subscription-based communications, in-vehicle security, hands free calling, turn-by-turn navigation, and remote diagnostics systems.

In China, GM has been offering similar services for just over two months.

As the number of China’s car owners increase at an amazing pace, in-vehicle integrated information systems, known in the industry as vehicle telematics, are growing in popularity.

Telematics includes but is not limited to Global Positioning System (GPS) technology integrated with computers and mobile communications technology in automotive navigation systems.

In addition to GM, more local companies are offering similar services to generate new revenue growth in China by providing niche, in-vehicle services, a move designed to further tap the world’s largest auto market.

Last year, Shanghai OnStar, a joint venture between GM subsidiary OnStar, SAIC subsidiary Shanghai Automotive Industry Sales Co Ltd and Shanghai GM that was established in 2007, began rolling out its telematics services to GM’s selected models in China after it signed an agreement in June with China Telecom to co-provide a range of wireless in-vehicle safety, security and information services across the country.

Later in December, Toyota launched GBOOK, a similar telematics system, for Lexus and Camry models.

OnStar is currently used by more than 6 million drivers worldwide. The vehicle-based service has been activated by drivers over 253 million times in the decade since its inception.

China’s telematics market is less than 100 million yuan, while the global telematics market will reach $42 billion by 2010, according to IDC, a global market consulting firm.

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