Things ground to a halt one morning this month at Buff Whelan Chevrolet in suburban Detroit after the dealership's Internet connection went dead. Staffers couldn't run lease payments, find cars in inventory or report sales to the factory. Then a light bulb came on for Matthew Oleszczuk.
The new-car salesman remembered that a few of the showroom models were equipped with 4G LTE service, a feature that Chevy is rolling out across most of its vehicle lineup for 2015. The connection through OnStar provides a mobile hot spot that gives users a high-speed Internet connection for up to seven devices.
Oleszczuk put a '15 Volt plug-in hybrid into accessory mode, keeping it plugged into a charging station to avoid draining the battery. Within 30 minutes, several sales consultants' desktop computers were connected.
"We were laughing because the signal was as strong or stronger than when we're running our internal network," Oleszczuk said.
Then he fired up a second car, a Malibu sedan, to connect another seven desktops. Once both cars were beaming signals, sales staffers used the opportunity as -- what else? -- a selling tool.
"One lady asked why the Volt was on, and we told her that our land line was down and the 4G connection was keeping our network going," Oleszczuk said. "She thought that was pretty impressive."