Holden Australia is set to introduce General Motors' connected 'OnStar' service into its line-up in 2019, almost two decades after Holden first offered select models a similar feature under the 'Holden Assist' umbrella.
Employing a global positioning system (GPS) and a 4G cellular connection, 'OnStar' will provide emergency, security, navigation, connectivity and vehicle management services via subscription, starting with the new Equinox mid-size SUV ahead of a full roll-out.
In 2001, VY Calais, Caprice and HSV owners could option an 'OnStar'-based 'Holden Assist' service that offered nearly all of these emergency and security features, with a three-year subscription costing $1990.
A famous example of such was a Calais stolen from Crown Casino in Melbourne, with 'Holden Assist' operators using its cellular connection and GPS tracking to locate the vehicle near Rod Laver Arena, where Victoria Police soon arrived.
Operators then remotely cut the Calais’ ignition, which stopped the vehicle in the middle of the road, allowing the pursuing police officers to quickly arrest the surprised perpetrator.
The service came into play again when Western Australia Police borrowed a Caprice for an undercover operation, but officers accidentally made contact with a concrete kerb, which triggered the front airbags and alerted 'Holden Assist' operators that then asked the vehicle's occupants through its speakers if they needed emergency services.
Holden soon retired the service due to lower-than-expected sales, but it will now return in complete, American-style 'OnStar' form, with an aim to “revolutionise the customer experience”.
Compared to 'Holden Assist', 'OnStar' adds features like a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, theft alarm notifications, 'Family Link', remote access and location manager.
While the 'Holden Assist' centre was operated by roadside assistance staff from Australian motoring clubs like RACV, NRMA and RACQ, Holden is set to create its own 'OnStar' hub that will also be responsible for other Asia-Pacific operations.
Former GM Holden sales director Peter Keley will oversee the 'OnStar' roll-out as the managing director of OnStar General Motors International.
“This is an important step as we will continue to grow GM’s connected vehicle solutions in this region of the world in the coming years," Mr Keley said.
'OnStar' will provide real-time vehicle health checks alongside service requirements to drivers via the 'MyHolden' smartphone application.
Thanks to the app, vehicles can be locked or unlocked from anywhere in the world, while owners can also locate their car in close proximity by setting off its horn and hazard lights.
Offered in North America since 1996, 'OnStar' has been upgraded with new features as technologies advanced over the years.
According to GM, there are nearly 13 million 'OnStar' subscribers in the United States, Canada, China, Mexico, Europe and South America.
The fee structure for Holden's 'OnStar' service remains unknown, but the company says it will be available through a subscription model, with full details to be announced closer to launch.