If even drive-thru windows seem too inconvenient, General Motors has a service for you. The Detroit automaker is launching an ecommerce platform that allows you to order a coffee with a tap of a car dashboard touchscreen.
General Motors Marketplace launches this week across the automaker’s four brands (Chevrolet, GMC, Buick, Cadillac) for vehicles from model years 2017 and 2018. Owners of those cars can purchase goods and services from different companies, including Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Wingstop, TGI Fridays, Shell, ExxonMobil, Priceline.com, Parkopedia, Applebee’s, IHOP, and Delivery.com.
The system works using the built-in 4G LTE connection in most new GM vehicles. Icons for the different products and services available appear on the dashboard touchscreen display, allowing drivers to, for example, order coffee at Starbucks, or get pancakes to go from IHOP. GM will also let customers purchase more in-car Wi-Fi data through Marketplace, and make reservations for oil changes and other maintenance work at dealerships. Users can make transactions on Marketplace without purchasing a separate data plan.
Marketplace is GM’s attempt to monetize the time people spend in their cars. In a press release, the automaker noted that the average person spends 46 minutes per day on the road. GM believes letting people buy stuff from their dashboards will make for more productive use of that time. Rival Ford has already tried something similar with FordPass, although so far that system hasn’t been as transformative as Ford initially promised.
GM also said that Marketplace is “designed to be used while driving.” It use data such as location, time of day, and the driver’s order history to offer personalized recommendations, as well as location-based services like finding the nearest restaurant or gas station.
That doesn’t sit well with the National Safety Council, a safety-advocacy group that has already criticized the system. National Safety Council president Deborah Hersman told Bloomberg that Marketplace will contribute to distracted driving.
“There’s nothing about this that’s safe,” Hersman said. “If this is why they want Wi-Fi in the car, we’re going to see fatality numbers go up even higher than they are now.
In its press release, GM said the system was designed according to “industry distracted driving guidelines” as well as the automaker’s “strict in-house safety guiding principles. A GM spokesperson told Bloomberg that the number of steps to place is limited, typically to about three or four, in order to minimize the amount of time the driver spends looking away from the road.
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