Cleveland, Ohio – With a tech platform in place and developers creating apps, customers will be able to buy coffee from Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, order and pay for wings from TGI Friday’s, or get a deal on hotel rooms.
Oh yeah, you can do all of that from your General Motors’ car without taking your eyes off the road for more than a few seconds.
GM Marketplace, the company’s in-car e-commerce platform, is a lot like a smart phone environment. By sticking with open-source protocols (primarily HTML 5), the automaker has created a system that should make it easy for retailers and third-party software companies to adapt iPhone and Android apps to automotive infotainment systems.
”For most retailers and consumer brands the daily commute is the only time not accessible in a consumers’ day,” said Santiago Chamorro, vice president for Global Connected Customer Experience, GM. “Marketplace gives merchants the ability to more safely engage with drivers and passengers in a meaningful way that provides true value for our customers.”
The system will serve as a test market for the auto industry on the money-making potential for connected-car services. GM will not require a data plan to access Marketplace, but it could make money by directing users to its own services such as WiFi data for the car, service specials, or vehicle accessories.
And while the development platform is based on open standards, GM will only allow approved apps to be downloaded and installed in cars. Officials from the automaker say maintaining that control is essential for safety because apps that distract the driver could be hazardous.
GM officials announced the availability in January of software development kits that software writers could use to craft custom programs for future infotainment systems. The software tools give developers access to nearly 400 vehicle data points including:
- Instrument panel measurements, such as trip odometer and vehicle speed
- Drive information, such as presence of passengers or if the windows are open or closed
- Vehicle features, such as radio or backup camera
- Performance and maintenance, such as oil life and tire pressure
- Lights and indicators, such as a burnt-out lightbulb or low washer fluid
Providing that data should allow app developers to target drivers with specific pitches – deals for hotels for people driving at cruising speeds in rural areas outside of their home markets, or coffee specials from commuters who pass the same shopping centers every work day.
The first companies participating in GM Marketplace are:
- GM customers can buy 4G LTE Data packages, extend OnStar subscriptions, or receive offers for certified service, parts, and accessories
- Starbucks lets customers to order ahead and participate in the Starbucks Rewards program (Early 2018)
- Dunkin’ Donuts will allow DD Perks members to preorder and pay onscreen for coffee and donuts at their preferred pickup location
- Wingstop will allow customers to re-order favorites and pay ahead
- TGI Fridays will let customers schedule table reservations
- Shell will provide ease of payment and savings with its Fuel Rewards program. Customers’ closest Shell station will be identified and station amenities showcased. Ability to pay in-dash capability is coming soon.
- ExxonMobil will quickly locate Exxon and Mobil fuel stations with details of what they offer, route you there, and get you back on the road faster
- Priceline.com gives drivers access to hundreds of thousands of hotels and exclusive hotel savings on the go
- Parkopedia allows drivers to find, reserve, and pay for parking
- Applebee’s will locate the nearest restaurant, order featured menu items, and reorder recent favorites through the vehicle’s touchscreen
- IHOP allows on-dash ordering and location service capabilities that help search and find the nearest restaurant for pickup
- delivery.com lets customers order online from local restaurants, wine and spirits shops, grocery stores, and laundry and dry-cleaning providers
GM is adding Marketplace to millions of existing 2017 and 2018 model-year cars, trucks and crossovers that have compatible infotainment systems, with continued rollout to compatible new vehicles
About the author: Robert Schoenberger is the editor of Today's Motor Vehicles and a contributor to Today's Medical Developments and Aerospace Manufacturing and Design. He has written about the automotive industry for more than 17 years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio; The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky.