This is the prepared text of the speech and may not reflect the verbatim presentation
Thank you… it's great to be here.
January 16, 2001
And that's exactly what General Motors is doing today. We're doing it with innovative product development and features designed to make life easier for our customers … like getting to a speaking engagement on time.
Creating the future today is all about … speed and connectivity.
It's very common to talk about "the need for speed" in the area of Information Technology - in fact, Moore's Law states that computer processing power will double every 18 months.
Everybody knows about the explosion of online information. As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has pointed out... "When Bill Clinton was elected president, there were 50 pages on the World Wide Web. Today there are over 50 million." And Web gurus assert that because of the speed that the e-world is moving, the current norm is that one calendar year equals four web years.
This is all the more remarkable when you look at all the dot.com upstarts who have fallen by the wayside. We are seeing what many said all along - that the real value of technology like this would surface when real companies found applications for it … companies like General Motors, who have the customer base and physical assets to leverage and make it go.
But not everybody is aware of the impact that these phenomena are having on our industry… the car and truck business.
No doubt about it… this is truly an exciting time for our industry. Cars and trucks are undergoing their most radical transformation since the introduction of the moving assembly line.
And make no mistake… General Motors is committed to lead that change.
We are redefining the role that our vehicles play in the lives of our customers, and we are doing it through innovative products and features.
Innovation drives our business. One of the most powerful engines for innovation in our industry today -- and the one most driven by the twin imperatives of speed and connectivity -- is telematics.
The combination of wireless communication and in-vehicle electronics, telematics is changing the nature of cars and trucks from strictly transportation… to information vehicles.
Admittedly, not everyone over the age of fifty sees the value in this.
(AD LIB - ELDERLY GENTLEMAN AT AUTO SHOW)
I can relate to that guy, but I can also tell you from personal experience that … "the times, they are a changing."
I have two daughters, one almost ten and the other fourteen, and when I go into their computer room on the lower floor of our house, a room which my wife and I affectionately call "the Cave" because of all the remnants of past feasts like those you might find in real prehistoric caves, you just wouldn't believe all the media they are plugged into.
They will be online in a chat room with their friends, while the stereo is blasting away, they're changing channels on the TV, and talking on the old-fashioned device in the corner, the telephone - and all at the same time - an amazing ability to multiplex.
They can do six things at once very adeptly -- and they are growing up with the expectation of being this connected in every aspect of their life, including the transportation they'll drive.
As our cars and trucks become "nodes on the network," we will witness a personalization of the driving experience like nothing we've ever seen before. I can say this with confidence… because GM hasn't just been watching these new developments from the stands - we are engineering them.
Jack Smith talked about our latest innovations and plans for OnStar at the Convergence 2000 Conference last October, but things have already moved faster than anyone would have guessed back then. Let me give you an update of what it all means to the customer and the industry.
As the nation's leading service provider of in-vehicle safety, security and information services, GM's OnStar has led the industry with in-vehicle telematics since 1997.
Since then, we've had almost seven million interactions with our customers. We're currently on almost one million vehicles …and we estimate that by 2003, OnStar will be on more than four million vehicles nationwide.
Now available on 32 GM models… OnStar has introduced a host of important features including automatic air bag notification, stolen vehicle tracking, emergency services, remote door unlock, roadside assistance with location, remote diagnostics, route support, convenience services and concierge services.
Some of the most dramatic and valuable OnStar customer benefits are in the area of safety and security. OnStar has saved lives and done things that weren't even imaginable several years ago.
Here's what I mean …
(PAUSE FOR VIDEO CLIPS)
Those are OnStar benefits that we can all be proud of, and we're not finished yet: We plan to keep OnStar in front of the industry with new innovations and customer benefits.
Now, anyone can load up a vehicle with gadgets… but new features and services cannot be allowed to interfere with the driver's number-one responsibility - piloting the vehicle.
As such, OnStar's newest innovations have been designed to maximize eyes-on-the-road, hands-on-the-wheel time.
After all, we'd like to stay connected to the road… even as we increase our connectivity to the expanding variety of communications services that are springing up every day.
Until now, the hand-held cell phone was the primary medium for accessing these services, but today, OnStar Personal Calling is making it easier… and safer for subscribers to stay connected.
Using a nationwide wireless network, OnStar Personal Calling allows drivers to make and receive hands-free, voice-activated calls from their vehicles… as I did earlier.
When I want to connect, I just push the white "dot" button on the three-button OnStar system, call out my number or a stored nametag… and the system places the call.
A microphone built into the vehicle picks up my voice… and I hear the other end of the conversation through the vehicle's radio speakers.
Eyes stay on the road… and hands on the wheel. A tremendous advance over the hand held cell phone!
Personal Calling was launched in selected areas of the Northeast in October, and will be extended to other regions in a national rollout through March 2001. Customers can choose from a selection of pre-paid packages for cellular time, making calls in the vehicle safer and simpler. No additional cellular contracts are required…there are no long-distance fees, no roaming charges.
The Internet also promises to change the way we use our vehicles. At the 1999 SEMA show, GM provided a glimpse into the future by showing the Internet-connected car and predicting that it would become a production reality. Talk about speed - here it is 14 months later… and the promise is being realized with OnStar Virtual Advisor.
OnStar Virtual Advisor is being launched in the Northeast as we speak. It allows subscribers to access personalized, Internet-based information such as e-mail, stock quotes, sports reports, news and weather conditions, as you heard me do earlier.
Using the Virtual Advisor's hands-free, voice-activated interface, I use voice prompts, such as "Get my e-mail," or "Get my stock quotes," to receive Internet services from the Virtual Advisor. The Virtual Advisor then converts the Internet text (what you might see on a PC screen) to speech, and relays the information to me.
In addition, in an industry first, OnStar will offer, real-time personal traffic information to subscribers through the hands-free … voice-activated OnStar Virtual Advisor service, beginning in June.
The information includes reports on accidents … road congestion … travel delays … construction … weather-related road conditions and major events, such as sports, concerts and festivals - really, anything that may affect the flow of traffic will be provided through the vehicle's sound system. There are no screens or displays to distract the driver.
I set up my personal profile with Virtual Advisor as any OnStar subscriber would. The Internet services you choose are maintained at our OnStar Centers and continually refreshed with timely and accurate information.
That means that I can change my personal preferences anytime I want to by accessing the secure My OnStar Web site directly from my PC. I manage the information I want to receive and the way I want to receive it in the vehicle.
Speed and connectivity applies not only to the features we put in our vehicles - but in a much broader sense, to how the very nature of our business is changing.
Just consider the speed with which our business model for OnStar has changed. When we introduced OnStar in 1997, we thought it was a cool feature that would help us sell more cars. Then, we realized we could make a business out of it. Next, that it had applications beyond GM. And from there, the idea to form alliances to capture a larger subscriber base.
Our OnStar model changed from being a neat safety and security feature … to Web-based vehicle information with a full array of connected services - all in the span of just two-and-a-half years.
And we're not finished yet. Brand Marketing Magazine just named OnStar one of the "Ten Brands to Watch in 2001." We had a very successful introductory marketing campaign for OnStar, and we're continuing to build awareness with commercials like these …
(PAUSE FOR BATMAN SPOTS)
We'll continue to add new features and services to OnStar that will keep GM in the lead.
Now, the one thing that allows us to create a neat business like OnStar is that we first have to be great at our core business … building great cars and trucks that customers want. Without great cars and trucks, we wouldn't have the customers or the demand for affiliated services that we do for OnStar. Everything starts with great cars and trucks -- that's what our business is built on.
GM will introduce nearly 40 new products in North America between now and 2003. And all of our products will include innovative features and technologies, like OnStar …Cadillac's Night Vision …the Stability Enhancement systems we have on our vehicles … or the All-Wheel Steering system, QuadraSteer, that will be coming on our full-size trucks in the 2002 model year.
With the vast array of customer choices today - and new vehicles and new segments being created all the time -- manufacturers must be fast to market with innovative products and features that connect with customers. You can't do just one, you have to do both - you have to be fast and make the connection with the customer.
Talk about fast to market -- the Chevy SSR was designed completely on the computer. This hardtop convertible offers the utility of a truck … the feel of an open-air roadster … plus the performance of a sports car, thanks to a powerful small-block V8. And it was just an image on a designer's computer screen as recently as ten months ago! Now it's on the fast track to Chevrolet showrooms for 2002.
We are moving in every area of our company to be faster to market with products that will connect with customers. The production version of the concept that helped define the new Cadillac vision is also coming in 2002 - the CLR Luxury Roadster.
This new luxury roadster will be a Cadillac through and through. Blending the very best elements of dynamic styling, advanced technology and robust performance via the Northstar System, the CLR will extend Cadillac's reach into the ultra luxury segment, and set the direction for Cadillac leading-edge design and technology in the 21st century. It puts the brand right in the middle of the luxury roadster market.
And shortly after we decided to do the deal with Hummer and acquired the brand … GM is coming to market with our first addition to the Hummer line-up, the Hummer H2 SUV.
Hummer is the ultimate off-road vehicle, and the H2 offers all of the image and off-road capability of a Hummer, but with a more approachable package for personal use.
These examples just touch the surface of what's to come. GM is absolutely committed to deliver innovative products at Web speed… and to provide greater connectivity for all our customers.
More and more, the mature and formerly tradition-bound automobile industry is beginning to resemble the information sectors. Speed and connectivity are no longer the exclusive property of Silicon Valley: we're wired for speed right here in Motown.
And as for GM… we're moving fast. We're connected… we're wired for speed … and we're very confident about our future as an innovation leader.
(PAUSE - DIAL ONSTAR FROM CELL PHONE)
Now, since I forgot where I parked, I'm going to call OnStar -- they'll beep my horn and flash my lights to help me locate my car.