Luton – Vauxhall’s personal onboard assistant, OnStar, is a comprehensive package, which includes a high-speed 4G LTE mobile network, emergency response notification and stolen vehicle recovery technology.
The system is free for customers for the first year, and is available in selected models across Vauxhall’s passenger car range. Having debuted at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, about half of new Vauxhall/Opel models across Europe feature OnStar technology.
Based in Luton, Bedfordshire, OnStar’s European headquarters is open for business 24/7 thanks to a significant investment in bringing the project to Europe, providing 120 jobs.
Globally, OnStar is the leading provider of connected safety and security solutions, value-added mobility services and advanced information technology in the automobile industry. It connects over seven million customers in the United States, Canada, China and Mexico with features including 4G LTE connection, emergency services and smartphone remote control.
As well as the UK, OnStar is available in 13 other markets across Europe, including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland. An additional 18 countries are set to be introduced by August 2016.
“With OnStar, Vauxhall is bringing the latest connectivity technology to a wider audience,” said Rory Harvey, Vauxhall’s Chairman and Managing Director. “OnStar makes driving safer as well as offering innovations in infotainment and telematics. And best of all, the system is free to customers for the first year of ownership.
“We are also very pleased to have the European headquarters here in Luton, creating 120 new jobs, joining our head office, Vivaro van plant and UK distribution centre which are already based in the local area,” Harvey added.
Wi-Fi hotspot for up to seven devices
With OnStar, each Vauxhall becomes a powerful, mobile Wi-Fi hotspot giving access to apps and services that require a high-speed mobile or data connection. Up to seven mobile devices can be connected simultaneously. Passengers will be able to stay in touch with family and friends via social media, play games, stream movies or watch TV via their favourite app or work while away from the office.
Emergency response and roadside assistance
If an airbag deploys, OnStar will be alerted automatically and an advisor will then contact the vehicle to determine whether help is required. If there is no response, emergency services are immediately sent to the vehicle.
Available 24/7 and 365 days a year, OnStar Advisors are located at the OnStar service centre in Luton. At a push of the SOS button, OnStar users can request assistance whenever they deem it necessary, for example, if they witness an accident. The OnStar buttons are located in the overhead centre console or the rear-view mirror on some cars.
The system also includes roadside assistance services making being stranded with a flat tyre or an empty fuel tank a thing of the past. A call to the OnStar team ensures that users will receive help as quickly as possible.
Remote connection with OnStar smartphone app
Smartphone users can connect to their vehicle remotely with the OnStar smartphone app enabling them to:
Rapid vehicle recovery
OnStar is able to assist vehicle owners and police if a vehicle with the system is stolen. The stolen vehicle assistance enables OnStar to work closely with law enforcement agencies to ensure that the car is recovered quickly and safely and returned to its rightful owner. Remote ignition block allows OnStar to send a remote signal to the vehicle that blocks the engine from starting once it has been reported stolen.
Up-to-date with monthly diagnostics
OnStar can also provide subscribers with a monthly vehicle diagnostics email with the most important vehicle data and information. A diagnostics check can be requested at any time at the push of a button, providing peace of mind before setting off on a longer journey.
European customers in complete control
Subscribers are in complete control of their data and the services they receive. Before the services are activated they will have to agree to the terms and conditions. They are able to choose whether they want to reveal their current location – at a push of the Privacy Button their position will be hidden. However, no matter whether the location is hidden/unhidden, OnStar will not be used to monitor its user but will solely offer services. In case of an airbag deployment, OnStar will by default override the mask functionality so that emergency services can be dispatched to the exact location as quickly as possible. In this special case, saving lives is priority.
OnStar European Headquarters in Luton, UK
Based in Luton, Bedfordshire, Vauxhall/Opel’s OnStar headquarters is open for business 24/7 thanks to a significant investment in bringing the project to Europe.
The European hub takes its inspiration from the original OnStar HQ at General Motors’ global base at the Renaissance Center in Detroit. OnStar has been established in the United States for 20 years where it provided the blueprint for operations in Canada, China, Mexico and now Europe. Advisors handle over five million calls per month from seven million customers.
OnStar joins Vauxhall’s existing operations in the Luton area including its headquarters, a manufacturing plant, which builds Vivaro vans for supply across Europe and the UK parts distribution centre.
Luton is one of the most ethnically diverse towns in the UK, which helped in the sourcing of the multilingual staff required to answer calls from customers across Europe. The eight languages spoken by advisors are:
New recruits are subject to a rigorous native speaker fluency test which ensures they meet the standards required by OnStar.
Another reason Luton was chosen as OnStar’s European hub was that Vauxhall’s Customer Care centre has been based in the town, so there was already a high level of expertise in the area.
The OnStar headquarters employs 120 people and is split into three divisions: Contact Centre, Command Centre and administration and support. OnStar will be available on selected models sold in the following markets:
“We are really pleased with how things have progressed since taking our first customer calls in the Luton Contact Centre last year,” said Brian McCreavy, OnStar’s Region Manager, Europe. “The usage has surpassed our expectations and reaching 1.5 million interactions is a great milestone.”
The NASA-style Command Centre features big screens rolling 24/7, 365 days a year. Dots on a huge map of Europe show the location of vehicles whose drivers have pressed their OnStar buttons.
“The Command Centre is the nerve centre of our business,” said McCreavy. “It assesses external forces, both natural such as snow and man-made like traffic jams, that may affect our customers and the response we provide them with.”
Each driver’s infotainment system, which is registered in the owner’s home country, is identified by nationality when a call comes through to OnStar, ensuring that the operator who takes the call is fluent in the driver’s chosen language. This language will also follow the driver should they travel across Europe.
In an accident situation, OnStar can recognise where the car is damaged (front, side or rear of the vehicle), even if the occupants are unconscious. Police and ambulance services are then immediately deployed. OnStar has Europe-wide relationship with all emergency services, meaning that calls made are dealt with quickly and efficiently with no introduction required.
“OnStar is a staple of people’s motoring lives in North America, China and Mexico and is now taken for granted by those who own GM products,” said Jon Hyde, Director, Global Expansion at General Motors. “In total, seven million GM customers benefit from OnStar currently, and we’re already seeing that this technology is becoming invaluable for buyers of Vauxhall products.”