Monthly Archives: February 2010

OnStar: What, How, Why

OnStar is the in-vehicle safety and security system created to help protect you and your family on the road. OnStar’s innovative three-button system offers:
– 24-hour access to expertly trained, caring Advisors
– A connection to emergency assistance
– Access to OnStar Hands-Free Calling

Do you ever worry about your vehicle being stolen? OnStar has Stolen Vehicle Assistance to help you and the authorities locate and safely return your vehicle: Once you report your vehicle stolen, Onstar can use GPS technology to pinpoint its exact location and provide it to authorities to help with its quick and safe recovery. Remote Ignition Block and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown are two industry exclusive technologies available on select 2009 and 2010 vehicles. Remote Ignition Block can prevent the vehicle from being re-started once the engine has been turned off, and if the vehicle is still moving, Stolen vehicle Slowdown can slow-down the stolen vehicle to an idle speed.

Have you ever locked your keys in your car and had to call a locksmith to get you in? OnStar can save you time and money with Remote Door Unlock: If you’re locked out of your vehicle, an Advisor can send a remote signal to quickly unlock your door, so you can get back on your way. Remote Door Unlock saves you time and money by avoiding the need for
a locksmith.

Have you ever forgotten where you parked? OnStar can help you find it with Remote Horn & Lights: If you can’t remember where you parked, an OnStar Advisor can remotely sound your horn and flash your lights to help you quickly locate your vehicle.

Have you ever gotten a flat tire or ran out of gas? OnStar is there to help with Roadside Assistance: Whether you’re out of gas, need a tire change or a tow, simply push your OnStar button and an Advisor can direct a service provider to your exact location to help you. Unlimited, 24/7 Roadside Assistance is included with your OnStar subscription.

Have you ever had an emergency while you were driving? OnStar provides Emergency Services with its red emergency button, located beside the blue OnStar button: If you or someone else need emergency help, one push of the red emergency button connects you to a live Emergency Advisor, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Using GPS technology, the Advisor can pinpoint your exact location and request that police, fire or medical support is sent — and stay on the line with you as long as necessary or until help arrives on the scene.

Have you ever been in your vehicle during a crisis or natural disaster? OnStar has Crisis Assist to help you in that event: During severe weather or natural disasters, a Crisis Advisor can provide evacuation routes, connect you to loved ones, and help you find food, water, medical supplies, or shelter locations.

Automatic Crash Response:
Automatic Crash Response is built-in to your vehicle and allows OnStar to send help right to you — even if you can’t ask for it.


Figure 1: The GM automatic crash response (ACR) system uses front and side sensors as well as the sensing capabilities of the Sensing and Diagnostic Module (SDM) itself. The accelerometer located within the SDM measures the crash severity.


Figure 2: In the event of a moderate to severe frontal or side-impact crash, data is transmitted from the affected sensors to the SDM. The SDM sensor also can identify a rear impact of sufficient severity. Regardless of whether the air bags deploy, the SDM transmits crash information to the vehicle’s OnStar module.

Figure 3: Within seconds of a moderate to severe crash, the OnStar module will send a message to the OnStar Call Center (OCC) through a cellular connection, informing the advisor that a crash has occurred. A voice connection between the advisor and the vehicle occupants is established. The advisor then can conference in 911 dispatch or a public safety answering point (PSAP), which determines if emergency services are necessary. If there is no response from the occupants, the advisor can provide the emergency dispatcher with the crash information from the SDM that reveals the severity of the crash. The dispatcher can identify what emergency services may be appropriate. Using the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite, OnStar advisors are able to tell emergency workers the location of the vehicle.

*Number and location of sensors and SDM may vary depending on vehicle model.

OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics:
OnStar automatically runs hundreds of diagnostic and maintenance checks on your vehicle’s key operating systems and delivers a summary report right to your inbox every month. You’ll find information divided into three main areas:

Diagnostic Information
Provides alerts for your key operating systems (the ones you would see your GM dealer about if there were an issue) such as engine and transmission, Stabilitrak stability control system, air bag system, emissions system, and antilock braking system

Maintenance Information
Highlights areas that require periodic attention to keep your vehicle running at its best by providing you with your current Oil Life and an estimated mileage at which your next oil change will be required, as well as your current tire pressure.

Notification Information
OnStar will let you know if there is a specific recall for your vehicle (so you can easily schedule service with your GM dealer), as well as important OnStar account information.

View a demo of OVD here

Hands Free Calling:
Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road with OnStar Hands-Free Calling. OnStar has the only built-in, hands-free wireless calling system of its kind, providing you with a convenient and reliable connection.
– A single button-push for safe driving
– Better connectivity in areas of limited cellular reception
– Fewer dropped calls
– Calls sound better, since they’re controlled through your surround-sound speaker system

If you already have Hands Free Calling, you can see instructional videos on how to use it here

Turn-By-Turn Navigation System:
It can happen to anyone. You take a wrong exit. Or you realize you “almost” know the way. Or you hit an unexpected detour. Now what? Be 100% sure of your directions with Turn-By-Turn Navigation.

Simple.Tell the Advisor your destination — get directions sent to your vehicle. That’s it. See upcoming turns and street names displayed on the Driver Information Center or radio. Wrong turn? Turn-By-Turn knows it and helps get you back on track automatically.

No wasting time or fuel. Good directions save you precious time getting to your destination. And you won’t pay to drive miles out of your way. You’ll be on the right road every time.

So, Why do you need OnStar?
OnStar offers an unparalleled combination of safety, security, and convenience services to help keep you and your family safe while traveling. With 24/7 connectivity to a live Advisor, you have the peace of mind of knowing that when you need help, OnStar can pinpoint your location and quickly contact help on your behalf. With its simple push-button operation, OnStar is easy to use when you’re driving. If you still aren’t convinced, read some of these Real Stories about how OnStar helped customers just like you.

For any other information about OnStar, including a list of vehicles equipped with OnStar, different plans available, and more demonstrations on how to use OnStar, visit the OnStar page here

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GM & NASA Team Up: The Result – The Robonaut!

When GM and NASA team up, only good things can happen.

Engineers from GM and NASA have been working together through the Space Act Agreement at the Johnson Space Center to build the new Robonaut (Robonaut2) or R2 for short. R2 is a humanoid robot that is designed to help astronauts during dangerous space missions, and can also help GM with safety in their plants.

R2 is a faster, more dexterous and more technologically advanced robot. This new generation robot can use its hands to do work beyond the scope of prior humanoid machines. R2 can work safely alongside people, a necessity both on Earth and in space.

You can see a video on the partnership here with some nice shots of R2.

Well this sounds like one advanced robot! I guess all we have to worry about now is R2 getting a little too smart and getting some bad ideas in its head…

See the whole press release here


Next generation Ecotec engine getting $500 million of R&D support

General Motors has announced that it will be investing $494 million into the next generation Ecotec engine. There has yet to be an announcement as to what form the engines will take, but the engine is currently offered in 2.0L, 2.2L and 2.4L variants that come standard in many of GM’s current vehicles – inluding the new Terrain/Equinox and the Buick LaCrosse.

Most of the money – $425 million to be exact – is going to the Tonawanda, NY engine plant, and that investment will also create 470 new jobs at that plant alone. The remaining cash will be split up between GM plants in Defiance, Ohio and Bay City, Michigan – with $59 million and 80 new jobs at the Defiance plant and $10 million with 15 new jobs in Bay City.

The investment includes facility renovation, new machinery, equipment and special tooling to support this engine program at the three plants. Here’s the press release from GM:

“GM is transforming its product portfolio to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, and the next generation Ecotec engine is an integral part of that transformation,” said Denise Johnson, vice president – labor relations. “The investment in state-of-the-art four-cylinder engines is another example of GM’s commitment to replace larger-displacement engines with more compact, advanced four-cylinder engines that optimize fuel savings and performance. We look forward to working with our union partners at these three plants to make this investment a success.”

The investment in Tonawanda, supported by the investments at Defiance and Bay City, will go toward producing two next-generation Ecotec engines. The new engines will have additional capabilities to improve fuel efficiency and improve performance through advanced design and by adding technology.

The Ecotec engine family is known for its reliability, fuel efficiency and performance. GM Ecotec engines have been on the forefront of delivering leading edge technology including direct injection, variable valve timing and turbocharging. Direct fuel injection, a hallmark of many Ecotec engines since 2007, is just now becoming mainstream technology in the industry.

The current Ecotec 2.4L with direct injection and variable valve timing in the Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain was recently recognized as one of Ward’s Auto World magazine’s 2010 “Ten Best Engines” for North America based on several factors, including power, fuel efficiency and new technology. The Ecotec is currently available in 2.0L, 2.2L and 2.4L displacements.

“This investment is important because it supports manufacturing in the United States,” said Cal Rapson, vice president and director, UAW International Union. “All three plants have a strong reputation for building quality and focusing on the needs of our customers.”

For competitive reasons, specifics about the engine capabilities as well as product applications will be shared at a later date.


Regal/Camaro Production to Move to Oshawa

General Motors of Canada has confirmed that production of the 2011 Buick Regal will kick off at its Oshawa assembly plant in the first quarter of 2011. That move has been assumed long before the Regal was even confirmed as an addition to the North American product lineup when a GM-CAW document listed production of a mid-size sedan to be added to the plant.

General Motors will bring back up to 700 laid off workers to staff a second shift on the flexible manufacturing line at the plant east of Toronto. The front-wheel drive Regal will be built on the same assembly line as the hot-selling Camaro. About the same time as Camaro production begins, GM will also add production of the new Camaro convertible. Initial supplies of the Regal will be coming from the Opel plant in Russelsheim, Germany when it goes on sale this summer.


A Quick Update on the 2011 Duramax

GM issued a press release not too long ago regarding the new emission control technology for their 2011 Duramax Diesel. We had a post about the new Duramax last month, so this information should clear up some of the questions we all had about the size of tank and heating system on the Urea injection.

GM’s 6.6L Duramax diesel features the latest in emission control technology, making it the cleanest Duramax engine ever produced, with NOx emissions reduced by at least 63 percent, compared to the 2010 model. NOx emissions are controlled via a Selective Catalyst Reduction aftertreatment system that uses urea-based Diesel (Emission) Exhaust Fluid (DEF). The DEF is housed in a 5.3-gallon (20 L) tank and needs to be replenished about every 5,000 miles (8,000 km). Electrically heated lines feed the DEF to the emission system to ensure adequate delivery in cold weather.

The 2011 Duramax 6.6L will also include GM’s second-generation diesel particulate filter system. Unlike most of the competition, the Duramax regenerates its diesel particulate filter using a downstream injection of diesel fuel directly into the exhaust stream and can travel up to 700 miles (1,125 km) between regenerations – a 300-mile (482 km) increase over the previous Duramax engine. The use of downstream injection also helps to improve engine life by eliminating concerns surrounding the possibility of diesel fuel contaminating engine oil, which can happen when fuel used for regeneration is introduced directly into the cylinder.

We should be receiving the new Duramax trucks in the 3rd quarter of this year – check back for any new information.