SALT LAKE CITY -- General Motors is applying its OnStar brand to a new service designed to help fleet and commercial customers monitor vehicle maintenance.
GM plans to launch the service, called "OnStar Business Vehicle Manager," in the 2006 model year. It will provide monthly service reports about commercial and fleet vehicles. They will include odometer readings and advisories of when oil needs to be changed.
Fleet and commercial customers who subscribe in advance to OnStar for a new vehicle's first two years will get Vehicle Manager free. GM charges commercial customers $199 a year per vehicle for standard OnStar service.
GM will charge customers $25 for the first year of Vehicle Manager service if they do not sign up for two years of OnStar in advance.
John Gaydash, marketing director of GM's fleet and commercial operations, says Vehicle Manager is based on actual vehicle use and driving habits.
"A lot of people change their oil every 3,000 miles because they think it's the best thing to do," Gaydash said at a GM presentation to fleet and commercial customers here. "This oil life monitor says, depending on how you drive a vehicle, you may be able to get (more) miles.
"If you do that, then you save the cost of an oil change and unnecessary maintenance, and you still don't hurt the vehicle," Gaydash says.
Clement Driscoll, president of C.J. Driscoll & Associates, a telematics marketing company in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., says many companies offer aftermarket fleet tracking and vehicle diagnostics.
But OnStar's service is unique, Driscoll says, because GM builds the technology into fleet and commercial vehicles at the factory.
"The commercial telematics space is pretty crowded," he says. "But OnStar has a big advantage in that GM is going to make it standard on all vehicles (by 2007). And GM is a big supplier to commercial fleets."
Gaydash says computers in GM fleet and commercial vehicles will gather operating data and send them to OnStar headquarters.
OnStar will compile the information and send the service report to Vehicle Manager customers.
Dale Davis, president of Republic Fleet Services, a fleet management company in Costa Mesa, Calif., says keeping tabs on mileage is important to commercial customers. He says Vehicle Manager's "technology would allow us to track when those vehicles need to be replaced. It allows you to see replacement cycles coming."
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