Tuesday, August 2, 2011

OnStar Pilot Allows Owners to Track Their Vehicles

Perhaps you've loaned your car to a houseguest, or a teenager. Or parked your hot new convertible with a sketchy valet. In those cases and more, OnStar is banking that you wouldn't mind knowing where your car actually is.
On Monday, OnStar announced a pilot program for what it calls Family Link, a suite of services to track the physical location of an OnStar-connected car at any time. One of those, OnStar Family Link Vehicle Location Alert, will also email you with the location of the vehicle, and later add SMS texting support as well.
OnStar is making Family Link available to just 10,000 subscribers, via an invitation-only program to test its utility. In total, over 6 million people subscribe to OnStar, the company says.

The service is available to any OnStar-equipped vehicle, which traditionally has been cars manufactured by General Motors. But on July 24, OnStar launched OnStar FMV, a custom rear-view mirror with the OnStar service installed. OnStar FMV (For My Vehicle) sells for $299.99, plus $75 for installation. Service plans for OnStar FMV start at $18.95 a month, or $199 a year, the company said.
For now, the service is only available to the subscriber with access to the OnStar account's username and password. Users can only track the vehicle using the OnStar Family Link Vehicle Locate via a dedicated Web site; at the moment, there's no mobile app or other means to check the car's location. The Vehicle Location Alert, however, will send that location via email to the owner, meaning that they can discover the vehicle's location while the owner is on the road.

The OnStar online map will show the location of the vehicle, and additional details can be accessed by hovering over it, OnStar said.
To set up a Location Alert, subscribers log on to the Family Link website and navigate to the Alerts tab and click on Add Alert, the company said. The subscriber can request the day of week and time to receive an alert, as well as how they would like to be notified: via text, email or both. Location Alerts will include the address the vehicle is near as well as the date and time.
"As of now, you cannot ping the vehicle location through email or SMS," a spokeswoman said via email. "You have to log in to the web site or set up the specified alerts such as 'notify me of my vehicle location at 5 pm'. Again, all support services will be evaluated during the pilot program before anything is revamped or rolled out."
OnStar said that the company will add additional fetures over time, such as Speed Alerts, Boundary Alerts, and Arrival/Departure Alerts.
OnStar does have a mobile app, called RemoteLink, which provides drivers with up-to-date vehicle information such as oil level, tire pressure, fuel level and even the lifetime mpg number. So far, the pilot doesn't seem to be supported by RemoteLink.

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