Rüsselsheim. When the new Opel Astra hits the roads, it will do so with an unrivalled connectivity offer. The Astra is the first new model to be introduced with the new personal connectivity and service assistant Opel OnStar. In addition, two next generation devices of Opel’s award-winning IntelliLink infotainment systems also make their premiere in the new Astra. More than ever, they bring the connected world of smartphones and apps into the cabin. They are compatible with the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop and Apple iOS-8 (or higher) smartphones. With the integration of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, users can for instance access audio streaming and message reading, and additional, third party apps such as Stitcher, Podcast, Spotify, Umano, etc. (depending on the integration system) via the car controls and up to eight-inch large touchscreens.
“Connectivity is one of Opel’s outstanding features as seen with our award-winning IntelliLink infotainment system. Opel OnStar is further proof that we want to deliver trendsetting innovations in connectivity to a wider audience,” said Opel Group CEO Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann. “Opel OnStar is a ground-breaking technology and service: It will make driving more comfortable – but most of all it will add a new, extraordinary level of safety to Opel vehicles. In addition, it enables a direct dialogue with our customers that will create stronger ties with the brand. All this will convince even more new buyers that Opel is the right choice.”
Powerful 4G/LTE mobile hotspot
The new Astra is the first Opel to be available with Opel OnStar from its launch – making it, by far, the most advanced and the most caring car in the compact segment. Created 17 years ago in the U.S.A, OnStar already is the leading provider of connected safety and security solutions, value-added mobility services and advanced information technology in North America, China and Mexico with over 7 million subscribers. Opel OnStar is making its debut in the Opel passenger car range in 13 European markets (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK) with additional European countries following later.
When equipped with Opel OnStar, the new Astra doubles as a 4G/LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, enabling up to seven devices to be connected to the car network. The built-in 4G LTE structure is specifically designed for in-vehicle use: it is integrated into the vehicle’s electrical system and includes an external antenna to maximize connectivity and deliver a stable internet connection. As the OnStar system comprises an independent SIM card encapsulated in its module, customers are not required to have a smartphone to use connected services. 4G LTE will initially be introduced in three markets, Germany, the UK and the Netherlands with the remaining countries following suit at a later stage.
Extensive service portfolio
Apart from bringing the latest in mobile Wi-Fi technology to the automotive world, Opel OnStar also gives access to a broad portfolio of services such as emergency services, roadside recovery and smartphone remote control. Opel OnStar’s key principle is that subscribers are connected to real people, not to machines nor multiple-choice mailboxes. These OnStar Advisors are located at the high-tech Opel OnStar Contact Center in Luton, England. They are multilingual in order to be able to answer in the subscribers’ own languages and are available 24/7 and 365 days a year.
Opel OnStar’s only visible feature in the car is a module comprising three buttons that is located close to the interior rear view mirror above the windscreen. The blue Service Button gives access to comfort services such as Vehicle Diagnostics and Destination Download: for instance, OnStar subscribers looking for a certain destination such as a restaurant or the closest gasoline station press it to contact an Opel OnStar advisor who will send the desired destination directly to the navigation system embedded in the vehicle.
At a push of the red SOS Button, Opel OnStar users can request assistance whenever they deem it necessary, for example if they witness an accident. But OnStar is also there in case one cannot ask for help personally. For example, if an airbag deploys, Opel OnStar’s guardian angel is alerted automatically. An advisor will then contact the subscriber and call him in the vehicle via the OnStar module to determine whether help is required. If there is no response, the advisor will immediately send emergency responders to the exact location of the vehicle.
The Privacy button allows the subscriber to mask the position of the car and become invisible to the system. However, to ensure maximum safety for subscribers, Opel OnStar will automatically overrule the privacy command in case an airbag is deployed.
In addition, the Opel OnStar subscriber can also download OnStar’s MyOpel Smartphone App. It allows him to contact OnStar from anywhere via his smartphone, for instance if his car has been stolen, needs to be located and remotely immobilized at some point. The app also enables the subscriber to remotely access important vehicle data such as oil life and tire pressure, or to remotely lock or unlock his car.
The entire Opel OnStar service portfolio is available in the new Astra and in all equipped Opel vehicles free of charge for the first 12 months after registration.
Phone integration via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
Two new IntelliLink systems premiere in the new Opel Astra, R 4.0 IntelliLink and Navi 900 IntelliLink – which features an integrated navigation system. They seamlessly and easily integrate smartphone functionalities. R 4.0 IntelliLink is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone integration from the beginning and enables, for instance, navigation via Apple and Android apps such as Apple Maps and Google Maps. The Navi 900 IntelliLink system is already compatible with Apple CarPlay, while Android Auto compatibility is scheduled to arrive in the course of 2016.
Each system builds off of the features smartphone users rely on most. Apple CarPlay takes the iPhone features you would want to access while driving and puts them on the vehicle’s display in a smart, simple manner. That allows drivers to make calls, send and receive messages and listen to music right from the touchscreen or by voice via Siri. Apple CarPlay supported apps include Phone, Messages, Maps, Music and compatible third party apps. A full list of those apps can be found at Apple.com/ios/carplay. Android Auto is built around Google Maps, Google Now and the ability to talk to Google, as well as a growing audio and messaging app ecosystem that includes WhatsApp, Skype, Google Play Music, Spotify, and podcast players. A full list of supported apps is available at Android.com/auto.
The functions can be controlled via the large, up to eight-inch touchscreen located on the center stack, via remote control on the steering wheel (selected functions only) or via voice control. In order to minimize the risk of distraction, the most important information can be repeatedly displayed directly under the drivers’ eyes in the color instrument cluster located between the speedometer and the rev counter. In combination with Opel OnStar, smartphones can easily be connected to the car’s Wi-Fi hotspot. This brings additional benefits such as real-time traffic information or the latest maps, and thanks to the map data being stored on a server instead of the phone, it saves memory on the device. In addition, online navigation via smartphone requires a permanent internet connection as well as a data plan, which can be an expensive experience, especially while roaming. But thanks to the personal connectivity and service assistant, drivers of the new Astra can not only use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for navigation, they can do so without impacting their smartphone’s data plan.
With Opel OnStar, the latest generation of IntelliLink infotainment systems and state-of-the-art smartphone integration, the new Astra is perfectly equipped to deal with the most sophisticated connectivity demands of the modern-day car owner.