Want to lock, unlock, or start your new General Motors car from your smartphone? There’s an app for that. Actually, there has been for some time now, but GM announced today it will include that functionality – dubbed OnStar Remotelink Key Fob – free for five years with most new 2014 Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC models.
The OnStar Remotelink app launched three years ago for both iOS and Android devices, and has since become quite popular with OnStar users. Although it isn’t the most in-demand service offered by OnStar – after all, GM’s telematics wing does receive 2 million navigation requests each month– some Remotelink app functions have still proven rather popular. According to OnStar, not only does the app have 320,000 regular users, but it receives nearly 60,000 commands via Remotelink to lock, unlock, remote start, or locate (i.e. flash lights and sound horn) a vehicle each month, prompting GM to bundle those functions with the purchase/ lease of a new 2014 vehicle.
“Our vehicles are getting more connected, and so are we,” said Mary Chan, president GM Global Connected Consumer, in a prepared release. “As mobile devices become a bigger part of our lives, GM understands the importance of providing our customers the ability to use these devices as part of their vehicle experience. What’s great about the RemoteLink Key Fob Services is that it works far beyond the range of a traditional key fob, which can come in handy in a number of situations.”
Most new GM vehicles typically include a 6-month free trial of OnStar’s full suite of telematics services, but this new deal provides basic Remotelink services five years from the vehicle’s delivery date.
Although the Remotelink app also offers other features, including remote vehicle diagnosis and the ability to push navigation directions or destinations to the vehicle, those functions are not included with the basic (and complimentary) Remotelink Key Fob services, and require upgrading to a full-fledged OnStar subscription. OnStar’s subscription plans run anywhere between $18.95-$28.95 per month, although annual plans offer a slight discount.
Likewise, the advanced charging, diagnostic, and battery status functionalities built into the customized Remotelink app for Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrids aren’t included with this five-year deal. That said, all new Volt deliveries include three years of full OnStar service at no additional charge.
What happens in 2017, when this Remotelink grace period ends? OnStar representatives tell us that, as of this moment, users will have to upgrade to an OnStar subscription, but the possibility of a low-cost extension of the basic Remotelink services is under consideration.