Eric Mayne's Blog

OnStar: Protector of Truth, Justice and the American Way


I drove the Batmobile the other day.

Actually, it was an '11 Chevrolet Corvette.

But it made me feel like the Caped Crusader.

It didn't have machine guns or grappling hooks or ceramic fractal armor plates. But on the rear-view mirror was a bright blue button with a familiar logo. The OnStar logo.

Imagining an OnStar advisor riding shotgun like a virtual Robin, I felt a certain invincibility. Which is not always good with 505 horses rumbling under your right foot.

Interestingly, OnStar has compelled some 462,000 people to do good (like Batman) since the concierge service was established in 1995. OnStar approporiately calls them "Good Samaritans," passersby who saw something wrong and pushed that little blue button.

Today, OnStar reinvents itself with enhanced features, some of which portend even greater potential to benefit the general public. First Assist makes available trained emergency-response personnel to subscribers who happen upon a calamity, or find themselves as victims.

Early results are positive. First Assist, which became fully operational last week, has handled some 1,200 calls since May.

"We’ve encountered several situations where we’ve walked people through snake bites," says Cathy McCormick, who ran a 911 call-center for better part of two decades before joining OnStar.

(For the record: Don't try to suck the venom out of the wound. That only works on TV, says McCormick, OnStar's public policy manager.)

The heroic part of this story is GM -- as well as OEMs such as Honda and Mercedes, which offer competitive systems -- in a bid to simply boost sales through increased vehicle content, have unwittingly put more than 6 million Batmobiles on the road. And each has the potential to ensure truth, justice and the American way prevail on the nation's roads.

OK, that's Superman's motto. But you get the idea.

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