GM Sees Growing Appetite For Connectivity
General Motors Co. expects its global customers to use its remote access smartphone app more than 260 million times this year as more people crave the ability to start their cars or unlock the doors before they arrive at their vehicle.
The auto maker’s RemoteLink can be downloaded onto smart devices, giving users access to features on their car. It was introduced in 2010 and is now available almost all over the world.
“In a recent survey, the importance of owning a cellphone ranked just as important as using deodorant every day,” said Mike Abelson, GM’s vice president of strategy and global portfolio planning. “What this survey is really saying is that connectivity ranks up there with personal hygiene and that is something we have to think about.”
The data highlights the challenge auto makers continue facing to make their vehicles more remote accessible, whether it is turning on the car or downloading a song list from the Internet for the ride home before the driver slips behind the wheel.
Ford Motor Co., for example, recently launched its Sync Connect, which allows drivers to use a mobile device to check fuel levels, oil and battery life. Mercedes-Benz offers mbrace, which allows customers to remotely start the vehicle or set the interior temperature.
GM recorded more than 133 million uses of its RemoteLink app during 2015, double that of 2014. Mr. Abelson said there is no reason why the usage rates won’t double again this year. Besides unlocking doors or starting the ignition, the app can give fuel level and tire pressure readings.
The link was used more than 100 million times last year in North America, 33 million times in China and 83,000 times in Europe.
“Even at the level of what we are offering today, the usage is exploding,” Mr. Abelson said. “The automotive industry isn’t used to seeing numbers like these. So it leads us to think about what more can we do?”