With Vauxhall Onstar, drivers can rapidly connect to an advisor at the push of a button. This invaluable system is equally useful whether you need roadside assistance, emergency help or a diagnostics check. We visited the Vauxhall Onstar Service Centre to find out more…
Being connected has never been so easy, thanks to Vauxhall OnStar. Launched in the UK last year and available across a range of Vauxhall’s passenger car models, it gives drivers a personal in-car assistant, meaning that at the press of the button, they can be connected to the Vauxhall OnStar Service Centre, where trained advisors will help them with anything from adding a destination on the in-car navigation to emergency assistance. The comprehensive package includes a high-speed 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, Automatic Crash Response and stolen vehicle assistance.
Launched in North America back in 1997, OnStar’s growth was enormous, becoming a hugely-popular option for those wanting the peace of mind that this system can bring. All the calls made to Vauxhall OnStar in Europe come through to the European headquarters in Luton where, in the state-of-the-art Vauxhall OnStar Service Centre, they are answered by trained advisors and the flow and spread of calls is monitored as the day progresses to help identify any major incidents.
We spoke to Brian McCreavy, Regions Manager Subscriber Services, about Vauxhall OnStar. “I think the key benefit we’ve launched in Europe is the Wi-Fi ability,” he said. “That gives you the ability to connect up to seven devices to your on-board Wi-Fi. The other services are really focused on safety and security – keeping you, your family, or whoever you have in the car with you, safe. Also, if you have a fitted navigation system in your car, we can provide a destination straight to your system so you don’t have to fumble around while you’re trying to drive. You simply press the button, talk to someone and they can do the research for you.”
Rory Harvey, Vauxhall’s Chairman and Managing Director added: “With OnStar, Vauxhall is bringing industry-leading connectivity technology to our customers. Vauxhall OnStar will make driving safer, as well as offer new innovations in infotainment and telematics. And best of all, the system is free to all new-car customers for the first year of use.”
In an emergency situation, users can press the SOS button to request assistance if they witness a crash or have an emergency in their own car. The Vauxhall OnStar Service Centre team can then use the system to locate the exact position of the vehicle and connect the driver with the emergency services, if necessary. Similarly, if a driver has an accident and the airbag deploys, OnStar will be alerted automatically and an advisor will then contact the vehicle to determine whether help is required. If there is no response, emergency services are immediately sent to the vehicle.
Smartphone users can also connect to their car remotely using the My Vauxhall app. This enables users to contact Vauxhall OnStar from anywhere, call up vehicle data such as oil life or tyre pressure, remotely lock or unlock the car, locate the car, honk the horn and flash the lights or quickly download destinations to the in-car navigation system.
Vauxhall OnStar can also help vehicle owners and police with stolen vehicle assistance, enabling the car to be recovered quickly and safely. Remote ignition block allows Vauxhall OnStar to send a signal to the vehicle that blocks the engine from starting once it has been reported stolen.
Subscribers are also able to choose whether they want to reveal their current location – at a push of the Privacy button, their position will be hidden. Brian explained more about privacy options: “When you start your Vauxhall OnStar relationship, you’re given the choice to share your information with your Vauxhall dealer. If you don’t want to, you can go into your profile and change that at any time. The information that we provide really is of benefit to you as the customer. We provide the dealer with the same information that you get in your Vauxhall OnStar vehicle diagnostics email every month, so any time there’s anything wrong with your car, he can be proactive and contact you. It’s really good for you as the driver, but it’s also really good if you have a car within your family that you don’t drive. In other words, for me, if my wife’s car needed to have an oil change, I wouldn’t know that because I don’t drive the car, but if I get an email, I can be proactive about it. From a privacy perspective, we want to put the subscriber in the driver’s seat, so if at any time they don’t want that information going anywhere, they can opt out.”
We took a drive in a Vauxhall Insignia, equipped with Vauxhall OnStar, to test it out for ourselves. With a quick call, made by pressing the blue Service button, we were connected to an advisor who found a destination for us and downloaded it straight to our sat nav – it really was as easy as we’d heard.
In Luton, we got to meet some of the voices behind the Vauxhall OnStar button, several of whom had been incredibly polite when I made repeated calls requesting destinations for my sat nav. Advisor Nabeel Awees talked to us about his role there. Master of three languages – Dutch, English and German – Nabeel impressed us with his enthusiasm. “I enjoy being able to help people,” he said, “even though it might be something as simple as a destination download or running a diagnostic test, or assisting them in a distress situation, when they really need someone.”
Some of the calls received are more lighthearted than others, as you’d expect. “Some are very funny,” he explained. “For example, five or six people trying to go out somewhere in Berlin and asking me for the destination download to the nearest club – quite different to the more serious calls we get.”
Talking to Nabeel, it brought home the fact that this service really is a very personable one – as Brian said, “Wherever you go, whatever you’re doing and whatever situation you find yourself in, you’ve got a live person that’s there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, that can help.”
If the growth in Europe follows a similar pattern to across the Atlantic, it won’t be long before more and more people are getting connected with Vauxhall OnStar.