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GITEX Exclusive: General Motors brings innovative vehicle safety service OnStar to the UAE

Offered in other countries for 20 years, General Motors will finally be bringing its proprietary safety service OnStar to the Middle East, as revealed at GITEX

OnStar provides customers with a 24/7 platform for addressing stolen cars, providing support after a collision, providing diagnostics, and more The service will first launch in the UAE, with other deployments to be revealed later "With a team trained to support you, in your hours of need, OnStar offers drivers confidence that someone will always be there to help, no matter the situation" - Gary West, Managing Director for OnStar Middle East Operations and Future Mobility MEA

At GITEX 2019, General Motors (GM) announced that its innovative customer support and security platform OnStar will be making its Middle Eastern debut next year in the UAE, seeking to bring its world-renowned service to the region. The membership-based service will be one of the first of its kind in the region, offering integrated safety and assistance features backed by a human touch to ultimately deliver peace of mind while on the road. 

OnStar’s services provide a solution for almost every situation. From a collision, to car theft, to even an allergy attack, OnStar is equipped to support its users. Through buttons built directly into a customers’ Chevrolet, GMC or Cadillac, you can reach a real human, ready to help 24/7. If you press the red emergency button, an Advisor will be able to assist the driver within a few seconds, while the blue button offers a concierge service, from vehicle diagnostics to directions.

Hoping to learn more about the OnStar platform, AMEinfo spoke with Gary West, Managing Director for OnStar Middle East Operations and Future Mobility MEA, to learn more about this innovative service and what it will bring customers in the Arab World. 

From left to right: Gary West, Brian McCreavy and John Roth discuss OnStar launching in the Middle East. Image: GM

Can you run us through some of the key features of the OnStar platform, and how it works? 

We are thrilled to be bringing OnStar to the region in late 2020 through Cadillac, GMC, and Chevrolet models. OnStar is a seamless end-to-end service with its technology built in to General Motors’ cars from the beginning, elevating the ownership experience for ultimate peace of mind 24/7, at the push of a button. 

For more than 20 years, OnStar has been helping customers in their hour of need offering a range of services to members from Automatic Crash Response, Emergency Services, Roadside Assistance to Connected Navigation, On-Demand Diagnostics and Remote Key Lock and Unlock. With a team trained to support you, in your hours of need, OnStar offers drivers confidence that someone will always be there to help, no matter the situation. 

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Could a customer’s vehicle ever be out of range of OnStar’s coverage? 

The OnStar service works via an embedded SIM (e-SIM). With the proprietary technology of OnStar built into the vehicle from the beginning and supported by the regionally-based Emergency Advisor center, we are able to ensure a more reliable connection than say the average mobile phone. As we prepare to roll-out OnStar in the UAE, we are working closely with local partners such as Etisalat to provide the best connection for our members. 

With the constant developments in technology, we are also always looking at new opportunities to improve our service, wherever the road leads. 

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Will OnStar be charged as an extra service (if so, how much?), or will it be included with all purchases of Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac? What about older vehicles? 

We are still working on packaging and pricing across the brands, however OnStar is an affordable membership-based service that allows drivers to get the most from their vehicle. We are also working closely with partners to bring the best service options to the UAE, keeping in mind what would suit consumers here.

OnStar will be available on future models of GMC, Cadillac and Chevrolet vehicles, starting from late 2020 in the UAE. However, when it comes to older GM models, we are always innovating and looking for ways to make OnStar as accessible as possible. 

That said, we need to ensure it’s safe, secure and reliable at all times. This isn’t the type of tech you can just plug and play. For example, if someone was to plug a third-party device saying it offered telematics support into their vehicles that device may interfere with vehicle systems and create cybersecurity risks. 

When do you expect to roll out the service in the Middle East, and in which countries?

OnStar will first launch in the UAE, available to customers from 2020 on our GMC, Cadillac and Chevrolet vehicles. We will announce more details about other countries and timings soon and you can keep an eye out at 

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Can you explain to us General Motors’ Zero Crashes, Zero Congestion and Zero Emissions philosophy, and how you apply this across your products? 

Our vision at General Motors is a future of Zero Crashes, Zero Congestion and Zero Emissions; this goal drives everything we do. 

Even in our current internal combustion engine line-up, we have built in the latest in technology to keep drivers safe before, during and after an accident. Whether it be Lane Keep Assist, Automatic Reverse Braking or lightweight, durable chassis that protect occupants upon impact. This technology scales up to the building blocks of the future of driverless vehicles with Super Cruise, the first hands-free, highway driving assistance feature available in Cadillacs in North America today.

We also are committed to an all-electric future. On the roads in the UAE today, we have the Chevrolet Bolt EV, a game changer in the electric vehicle space that provides a practical, long-range solution for everyday sustainable mobility. As for the future, the introduction of our next generation electric platform, BEV3 will be led by our Cadillac brand. 

Underpinning all of this, is the fast-paced movement of the industry toward connected vehicles that “think” on the road and “speak” to the world around them. Laying the groundwork for the next needs of tomorrow’s transport, we introduced our new electric architecture that offers 5 times the processing power of our existing capabilities to power. Debuting in the 2020 Cadillac CT5, this architecture will underpin all future innovations in both electric and autonomous vehicles.

OnStar supports this journey by not only having someone there when you need them most, but also making every drive more connected, and even fun, as well as helping drivers and ourselves learn how we can behave better and safer on the road. 

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