Early warnings of car problems are as old as the alarming red “engine” light glowing on the instrument panel. But the latest manifestation by Chevrolet provides the earliest and most helpful warnings yet to car owners.
OnStar Proactive Alerts enable vehicles to warn drivers about a potential maintenance need long before there is any actual sign of a malfunction. The alerts apply what the GM-owned system has learned from billions of pieces of data culled from millions of vehicles in its fleet, and then uses that information as tripwires to ensure that the car owner can stay ahead of any problems.
“A few companies are doing limited in-vehicle diagnostics,” said Paul Krajewski, director of GM’s Vehicle Systems Research Laboratory, in a press release. “But none have yet demonstrated the capability we offer.”
If the data indicates a particular vehicle’s component is not performing as expected, the system will automatically send the driver a message through an in-vehicle notification and either an email or text message.
For instance, Chevy said, Proactive Alerts can monitor the health of the 12-volt battery in covered vehicles including the 2016 Silverado, Tahoe, Suburban, Corvette and Equinox. The system can distinguish between a low state of charge, which can be solved by going for a short drive, and high electrical resistance that could indicate the battery needs replacement. In this way, GM plans to inform dealer service departments so they can spend less time testing a problem car for a condition that’s already been diagnosed, replace parts quicker and minimize the time for a service visit.
At the same time it is making things easier for owners under the hood, Chevy also launched a new lifestyle-oriented website designed to make things more entertaining for customers. ChevySmallCars.com is focused on the brand’s small-car offerings and will try to lure millennials and Generation Z with, for instance, episodes produced by Funny Or Die and comedian Al Madrigal.
Customers for small Chevys such as Spark “are likely to be first-time new car buyers and traditionally are more likely to stay with the brand as their needs and lifestyles change and they need to move up to a bigger sedan or SUV,” said Steve Majoros, director of Chevrolet cars and crossovers. The new website “is a great way to expose a portion of our portfolio that not everyone knows about.”