When an automaker comes out with an innovative idea, it’s only a matter of time before others copy and paste. GM’s OnStar, which was introduced in the late 1990s, is another case in point. OnStar has grown from its crash response roots and now offers navigation, Bluetooth and security to aid in peace of mind. Other manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz with mbrace, BMW’s BMW Assist, Enform from Lexus and Hyundai’s recently introduced Blue Link all offer services similar to OnStar.
Now Infiniti is attempting to one-up OnStar with its new Infiniti Personal Assistant, boasting “unlimited 24-hour access to a live team of professional assistants.” Infiniti, referring to the new standard feature as a “24-Hour Concierge Service,” says it can be accessed through the owners’ mobile phone (either synced to the vehicle’s Bluetooth system or away from the vehicle), or via e-mails, text messaging and online.
“The new Infiniti Personal Assistant benefit is a great addition to the Infiniti Total Ownership Experience, providing true ‘anything, anytime, anywhere’ concierge service with the personal touch of talking to real people, not some computer data site,” said Ben Poore, Vice President of Infiniti Americas in a statement announcing the service.
According to Infiniti, owners can ask for answers or assistance on several topics including:
• Directory Assistance and Driving Directions • City Guides • Weather Forecasts • Dining Suggestions and Reservations • Movie Times and Reviews • Travel Arrangements • Emergency Assistance • Schedule Reminders • Stock Market Information • Sports Scores and Stats, General Trivia Answers • Consumer Product Reviews and Price Comparisons
Unlike OnStar, which is only free for the first six months, Infiniti’s service is free for the first four years to customers who purchase new Infiniti M, G, QX, FX or EX models. Companion accounts (for those who wish to register more than one phone number) as well as accounts for certified pre-owned Infinitis can be set up for a 4-year time period, but require a small fee. Buyers of non-certified pre-owned vehicles can pay for a 1-year account.
Infiniti tested its Personal Assistant in four major cities over the last nine months. During the preliminary testing Infiniti says the most common topics users inquired about included directory assistance, dining suggestions and driving directions. Infiniti is rolling out the new feature now and nationwide availability will be complete within the next 90 days.