GM's Volt to Launch With Cell Phone App for Remote Control

General Motors announced Tuesday night at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas that the upcoming Chevrolet Volt, an electric vehicle scheduled to launch in late 2010, will roll out equipped for remote control via smartphones. The automaker says its application (shown in a video below the break) will allow Volt owners to control certain vehicle functions through their BlackBerry Storm, Droid or iPhone, for example: schedule battery charge times, view whether or not the vehicle is plugged in, check voltage at a charger, get text notifications of interruption or completion of a battery charge and turn on climate control.

Sound familiar? It’s a heckuva lot like the app unveiled by Nissan for its all-electric LEAF last summer. Nissan’s app was still in the development stage at the time, and GM is now calling its Volt the “first electric vehicle to demonstrate wireless smartphone application,” and “the auto industry’s first working smartphone application” that will provide Volt owners with constant connection to vehicle functions and features of GM’s OnStar system, such as remote door unlocking. Prior to this app, GM notes OnStar features “have typically been accessible only through a call into the OnStar call center.”

These types of apps are a key piece of the emerging Car 2.0 era — the idea that the next generation of cars will be networked to the power grid as well as communication networks, and will have the ease and functionality of our consumer electronics.

For GM, the so-called OnStar Mobile Application could also be a key part of marketing the vehicle to gadget-minded consumers. The automaker says that with this app, the Volt “showcases technology beyond the battery,” something GM needs to do to go beyond niche markets for a $40,000 plug-in sedan. As Andrew Farah, vehicle chief engineer for the Chevy Volt, recently emphasized in a call with reporters, “Our whole goal here is to put together a great vehicle for customers, not just a battery on wheels.”

A demo of the app for iPhone will be available on iTunes starting Jan. 6. More demo screen shots are available here.

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