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GM’s latest business: drive-by discounts

OnStar AtYourServiceOnStar AtYourService
GM's in-vehicle connectivity service OnStar has launched AtYourService through the RemoteLink mobile app. The new tab will offer discounts to retailers and other merchants on the driver's route. Courtesy of General Motors

General Motors is getting into the mobile coupon business.

The automaker announced Tuesday it was launching AtYourService, a platform available through the OnStar RemoteLink mobile application that will give drivers information about discounts retailers are offering near their location.

Customers with an active OnStar subscription will be able to use the RemoteLink mobile app to access an AtYourService tab before they start their journey, according to GM(GM). The tab will include offers, sponsored locations, and a category search tool to locate options for dining, retail, fuel, and other merchants. Users can save the offerings for later use. The content will be updated based on the subscriber’s location, time of day, and day of the week.

Dunkin’ Donuts and RetailMeNot are among the first to participate in the new GM feature. Customers will also be able to access special deals from, which is offering a trial access to more than 60,000 audio books.

GM does already have a customer base. The RemoteLink app has more than 1.6 million active users who use it to remotely start their vehicle, unlock doors, get vehicle information, send routes to their vehicle, and customize Wi-Fi settings. And GM knows its OnStar users do make navigation requests to the types of places that will offer discounts. About 35% of point-of-interest navigation requests in North America are for retail locations, 20% for restaurants, 10% are for hotels.

But should the company use its intimate knowledge of its captured audience to pitch products?
In-vehicle technology is big business—about $14.5 billion in projected revenues for this year alone, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. A mobile coupon generator might sound swell to the OnStar team (and there’s a great potential for obtaining even more data about its drivers) but will anyone actually use it? Or will it just make drivers, already sick of spam email and text messages, ignore the feature altogether? A study released last month by J.D. Power suggests it might not jibe with consumers.

The J.D. Power 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience Report found that at least 20% of new-vehicle owners have never used 16 of the 33 technology features measured. The five features most commonly reported as “never use” are in-vehicle concierge (43%); mobile routers (38%); automatic parking systems (35%); head-up display (33%); and built-in apps (32%).

Consumers do like tech, but in many cases they prefer to use their smartphone or tablet. They appear to be particularly fond of tech that provides added safety or helps them more easily use their smartphone such as blind spot warning, phone pairing, and parking assist.