GM Bets Big on the Connected Car. Is Radio Listening?

If you’ve been anywhere near a new car showroom lately, you’ll know that the big question many customers are asking isn’t “What’s under the hood?” but “What’s in the dash?”  The new generation in infotainment systems are helping manufacturers move a lot of cars off the lots.

This is why GM is ramping things up with just-announced plans to turn their vehicles into rolling mobile phones.  Starting in 2014, GM will wire all Chevys, Buicks, GMCs and Cadillacs (plus Opel and Vauxhall in Europe) with 4G mobile broadband.

Note that this option is NOT a piggyback on a mobile phone.  It’s connectivity built right into the car.

Well, so what? Why am I writing about this on a website that’s supposed to be about music and broadcasting?  Because this move has the potential to have earthshaking implications for radio.

Examples of what this new GM system might offer:

-Real-time traffic for what’s going on around you, not what’s happening somewhere else.  That will impact stations that build themselves around providing traffic reports.

-Real-time weather for what’s happening right outside your vehicle, completely obliterating the need to tune in a radio station for the latest weather report.

-Easier access to online entertainment of all sorts.  And where will that leave traditional radio stations offered over AM and FM?

And it’s not just GM.  BMW and Volkswagen–both of which offer limited 4G options–will have to step up their game.  Ford, which has had much success with its sometimes finicky MyFord Touch system, will have to do the same.  And you can bet that Honda, Toyota, Mercedes and all the other big manufacturers have infotainment skunkwords programs.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear more on these plans today at the Mobility World Congress that’s currently running in Barcelona.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

2 thoughts on “GM Bets Big on the Connected Car. Is Radio Listening?

  • February 25, 2013 at 4:18 pm
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    I remember when satellite radio was just starting to get big here, everyone was worried about its impact on terrestrial radio. I recall thinking that it wouldn't really be an issue, it might have a small impact, but not everyone would be able to afford it. In my mind, the real threat to terrestrial radio has always been the availability of the internet in cars, when people really can get the exact music they want, when they want it. In the end, though, it will really come down to cost. How much extra will people have to pay for this feature? If it's too much it won't take over, just like satellite radio didn't.

    Reply
  • June 28, 2013 at 6:34 am
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    Car infotainment is really a nice concept as far as car user is concerned. General Motor announced plans to turn their vehicles into rolling mobile phones. Starting in 2014, GM will wire all Chevys, Buicks, GMCs and Cadillacs (plus Opel and Vauxhall in Europe) with 4G mobile broadband. Car connection is really an important concept to look at for the communication while driving the car.

    Reply

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