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GM to Offer 4G LTE Connected Cars

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According the Wall Street Journal, later this month GM will roll out thirty new cars with the option to add 4G LTE connectivity provided by AT&T. This service would allow users to stream music from sites like Pandora or Spotify. The article points out in particular that GM will be offering the service à-la-carte, that is the customer can choose how much data she would like to purchase per month much like a cell phone plan. This ambitious undertaking is a natural advancement, but it’s hard to know if it will catch on, or if it will die out like the car phone. GM believes this technology is one more way it can separate itself from the competition and believes it will help to sell cars.

While the technology is certainly flashy, and I’m sure many competitors will imitate it, I don’t see people wanting to pay for what is essentially another cell phone. As long as customer’s smart phones can be seamlessly connected to a car’s infotainment system then it seems redundant to pay a monthly fee to have your car do essentially the same thing your cell phone already can. I imagine that this technology will go the way of the car phone, which was made obsolete by the cell phone. I personally don’t see the motivation to purchase this option other than the “wow” factor.

This option is representative of how car companies are seeking to entice customers using cutting edge technology. It’s not necessarily a particularly useful feature, but any brand that offers this service is sure to seem more technologically advanced to the consumer than one that doesn’t. The consumer will see this available feature and assume that the brand is on the leading edge of technological improvements. Thus, the benefit to GM doesn’t necessarily come from the practicality of the feature itself, but instead the reputation it seems to serve. In this way, the 4G LTE option functions like a “halo” car. It attracts attention to the brand and shows what the carmaker is capable of. Consumers just have to hope some of that technology trickles down to the lower-end vehicles.



  1. Peter Wittwer
    Peter Wittwer

    Although I agree that the adding 4G LTE connectivity does not have a huge amount of utility, it does have the capability to be used in advertising campaign. The same way the Brose invention of the automatic trunk door being able to open with the swing of one’s foot was pushed extremely hard in advertising campaigns. I’m sure we will start to see GM commercials with drivers listening to all their favorite music on spottily. Although these inventions don’t have a huge amount of utility, they are a way OEM’s can show the public and consumers their product is the most advanced and the best buy.

    May 13, 2014
  2. mayolj16

    I do not know if they did the same in the US, but Chevrolet already tried releasing a model with wi fi inside. They offered it with one free year, and the possibility to get a contract with the Spanish telecommunications company Movistar. The offer was a complete failure since people were not willing to pay extra for something they were already paying for when they had smartphones with internet access. I understand that the US market is different from Argentina’s, but the 4g does sound like a useless feature.

    May 13, 2014
  3. Jier Qiu
    Jier Qiu

    To Juan, a lot of OEMs do provide in-car wifi in the US as far as I’m concerned, people just have to pay extra for it. I think the in-car 4G LTE is useless. Most of the Americans that own smartphones. They usually subsribe a data plan along with it. Also, the service GM is providing offers so little value that it is inconsequential to most people because in urban areas people can use their phone to access 4G LTE service; on the edges of the cities, well, they either have 4G coverage, or no service at all. In-car 4G LTE is not helping in either case. There is one point however, is valid about the integrated LTE in-car entertainment. Most people tend to use their cellphone to play music while they are driving, but it is much safer if they can use an in-car entertainment surface to satisfy their needs. However, in this case I don’t think a 4G LTE service is neccessary. What GM needs to do is to find out how to seamlessly integrate hand-held devices into the in-car entertainment surface.

    May 14, 2014
  4. Louis Ike
    Louis Ike

    Much like the comments above, I think that the concept of wifi or internet capabilities in a car are redundant and will fall very short in the American market. Almost everyone who would be making use of pandora or spotify, are the same people who have smartphones with the applications already downloaded to them. As long as cars have bluetooth capabilities or an auxiliary port, the need for wifi within a car is relatively obsolete. Perhaps in a niche market this concept could work, but with emergence of things like downloading spottily playlists for use without internet I do not see this features being useful.

    May 14, 2014

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