Mike Colias
Mike Colias
GM Reporter

Why GM should put wireless connections in its trucks

The latest GMC Sierra features a giant console for hanging files and laptop storage. Adding a fast, reliable Internet connection would only enhance the truck as a mobile office.
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NEW YORK -- At an exhibit on the auto show floor here, I sat inside a Cadillac XTS sedan equipped with General Motors' new 4G LTE wireless connection.

But I couldn't help but think: GM should have put the 4G demo unit in a Chevy Silverado or GMC Sierra pickup. Because it’s in those trucks that the technology could very well give GM the biggest advantage over the competition.

The 4G LTE service that GM plans to begin rolling out across most of it models this fall won't be a game changer in my view, at least not right away.

Yes, there are some applications that require a fast, embedded connection, and surely there will be more to come. For example, GM plans to offer vehicle health reports that use the 4G connection to pull diagnostic data from the car, which can’t be done using only a linked smart phone.

Streaming content to back seat video screens occasionally could be useful -- anyone who has suffered through road trips with kids could attest to that. Same goes for the mobile hotspot that can provide high-speed Internet access for up to seven devices at once. For long trips, great. For commutes, not so much.

But for the pickup owner who often spends the work day at a job site, the truck is the office. That hotspot, which provides an Internet connection within up to a 30-foot radius of the cabin, could become a lifeline -- and a major consideration when shopping a new truck.

Today’s full-sized pickups already feature giant consoles for hanging files and laptop storage. Adding a fast, reliable Internet connection would only enhance the mobile office.

In an interview here, John McFarland, director of GM's global connected consumer group, said that GM is mulling special data packages and other offerings for pickup buyers. No decisions have been made and GM won’t announce subscription details for the 4G service until later this spring.

In the fiercely competitive truck market, GM’s mobile hotspot could turn out to be a powerful selling tool.

You can reach Mike Colias at mcolias@crain.com.

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