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The Evolution of OnStar

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See how OnStar technology has advanced throughout the years. 

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See how OnStar technology has advanced throughout the years. 

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As we celebrate 20 years of impacting lives, it’s interesting to see how our first-in-the-industry technology has grown from responding to air bag deployments to a recent addition that alerts drivers to potential issues with select vehicle components. It’s rewarding to see how our service has expanded, reaching from the United States to connecting vehicles in nations around the globe. Yet some things remain the same — namely, the calm, compassionate Advisors who are always ready to help, whether you have a safety concern or simply need directions or want a valuable offer to a good restaurant. How did we arrive here? Let’s take a look. 


Catching problems before they happen

OnStar launches Proactive Alerts*21— technology that can predict potential issues with select key vehicle components and send Members real-time alerts via email and/or text. This enables drivers to deal with potential issues with their battery, fuel pump or starter motor before they become problems.

Helping drivers drive smarter

Smart driving is safer driving — it can help save money too. OnStar Smart Driver*23a monitors and scores driver behavior, noting things like hard braking, hard acceleration, etc. Participants can receive feedback and tips to boost their scores, which can help them maximize their vehicle’s performance, save on gas, and reduce wear and tear on the vehicle.

The proof is in the patent

There are 801 OnStar issued patents and 1,410 patent applications filed in the U.S. Further proof that we are always looking for innovative ways to improve life on the road for drivers and passengers.


Value for drivers, when and where they need it

Marketplace*24 seamlessly links Members with valuable offers to the places they go the most — such as restaurants, retailers, gas stations and parking vendors. Participating businesses include Exxon, Priceline.com and more. Drivers can access these offers via their vehicle mobile app*26 or vehicle infotainment screen (if equipped), or by pushing the blue OnStar button (requires Guidance, Unlimited Access or OnStar Safety & Security Plan).

Connections by the billion

OnStar celebrated its one-billionth Member connection in July of 2015. Providing everything from built-in Wi-Fi®*33 to automatic help in a crash,*16 OnStar helps drivers travel with the confidence of knowing where they’re going, what’s around them and that they’re never far from help if they need it.

Always keeping a lookout

OnStar introduces Theft Alarm Notification,* 19part of a suite of Stolen Vehicle Assistance* 18services. The new feature can immediately alert you via phone, text or email if your car alarm sounds after you electronically lock your doors. With Theft Alarm Notification, you can stay informed and connected to your vehicle — even when you’re nowhere near it.


Vehicles get an available built-in Wi-Fi® Hotspot

Beginning with the start of production in June 2014 for the 2015 model year, most Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models are equipped with OnStar 4G LTE. That means Members have an available built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi® Hotspot*33 that lets them connect up to seven mobile devices at once.

Vehicle location at your fingertips

Putting an end to parking lot pandemonium everywhere, OnStar adds Vehicle Locate*29 to its vehicle mobile app*26 offerings. The app can pinpoint the Member’s vehicle on a map so they no longer have to wander through parking lots or up and down city blocks trying to remember where they parked.

Ahead of its time

OnStar 4G LTE named “Best of What’s New” in auto by Popular Science. This revolutionary new hardware helps drivers stay connected on the road like never before with an available built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi® Hotspot*33 that can power up to seven devices with a highly reliable and faster connection.


Mobile connectivity

OnStar creates its first mobile app*26 (now integrated into the vehicle mobile apps), which lets Members use their smartphones to remotely control their vehicles from great distances, locking or unlocking the door, starting the vehicle*28 (if properly equipped) or even sending destinations*20 to their car from nearly anywhere. We are a society driven by connectivity. Apps keep us in the loop.

We’ll get you there

From the computer to the car, OnStar becomes one of the first companies to sync the web with your vehicle’s navigation system. Members type in their destination, plan their routes and then send the directions right to their vehicles, getting them the fastest route possible. 


No slowing down forward thinking

OnStar Stolen Vehicle Assistance*18 receives a new feature with Stolen Vehicle Slowdown, which uses satellites located more than 12,000 miles above the earth, along with vehicle sensors, to determine a stolen vehicle’s location. An Advisor can send a signal to the vehicle to slow it down — helping police locate and quickly recover it.


Up in the clouds

Connecting with global positioning satellites, OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation*20 can save Members time by determining a vehicle’s location and sending voice-guided directions to the driver’s chosen location. This cloud-based system — equipped with voice recognition capability, integrated steering wheel controls and Bluetooth® — was created before cloud-based systems became cool.


Here’s to your vehicle’s health

With the advent of Vehicle Diagnostics,*21 OnStar can run hundreds of diagnostic and maintenance checks on your vehicle’s key operating systems and send a summary to your inbox every month. The diagnostics reports keep Members informed and give them peace of mind.


Hold the phone

Remember how big cell phones were in the late 1990s? We’re talking mini-bricks — not quite 1980s bricks, though. To avoid distraction, OnStar creates Hands-Free Calling,*32 which allows drivers to make and receive phone calls using voice recognition so they can keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.


Remotely speaking

OnStar introduces Remote Diagnostics, one of the first of its kind in the industry, to take the guesswork out of your vehicle’s maintenance needs. Anytime, at the push of a button, Members can request On-Demand Diagnostics*21 via an Advisor.


Another first for OnStar

OnStar debuts as the industry’s first built‑in telematics system and available comprehensive automatic crash notification*16 and security system. When air bags deploy, the built‑in OnStar module immediately connects to an Advisor who relays the information to emergency responders, helping them work more efficiently when they arrive on the scene.

OnStar debuts in Cadillac

OnStar was initially a dealer-installed device offered in several 1997 Cadillac models. We eventually perfected the technology with the built-in system Members use today. Now everything you need is a button-push away. 


A beacon for safety

Project Beacon was launched with the cutting-edge intention of marrying wireless communications with automobiles. Satellite and cellular technology was beamed right into your vehicle. This evolved into today’s OnStar — making road trips and commutes smarter and safer for all.


D.A.I.R. we say innovation?

OnStar was a twinkle in the eye of several engineers when they created the Driver Aid, Information and Routing system, better known as D.A.I.R. This high-tech system could send an emergency message from the car to a service center and featured an automatic message to notify the driver about certain road conditions.