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Vauxhall reassures lease companies over Onstar

Date: 05 April 2016   |   Author: Daniel Puddicombe

Vauxhall has moved to calm leasing industry fears over the way its industry-leading Onstar system will interact with lease companies' own support arrangements, particularly regarding elements such as tyre replacement and vehicle recovery and repair.

"Connected cars have caused issues with the leasing industry, and we are working with them to find a solution to go hand-in-hand with their processes," Vauxhall fleet marketing and Motability manager Paul Adler told BusinessCar.

Onstar-equipped vehicles have a button that automatically connects them to the Vauxhall call centre for help in the event of a breakdown or incident, and Adler said Vauxhall's procedures have been updated to flag the car as leased and redirect it to the lease company rather than a Vauxhall dealer.

"We are aware leasing companies have robust processes for tyres etc, but drivers have the temptation to press the blue button so we've had to adapt our processes," Adler continued. "We have zero interest in working against them, we're trying to show that our processes can work in harmony with them."

BMW, the other company blazing a trail with regard to connected car services, confirmed to BusinessCar that corporate customers go through the same channels as private users with its ConnectedDrive service. "In the case of a breakdown, should the customer require technical assistance they can transmit data relating to the condition of their BMW directly to our Roadside Assistance team using the TeleService Breakdown Call via the iDrive," a spokeswoman told BusinessCar.

"The Roadside Assistance team can then diagnose the problem and send immediate assistance. Should any further repairs be needed, the leasing company would then be involved."

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association has been working on the issue of connectivity for some time, regularly updated members on the legislative and operational issues surrounding telematics, connected vehicles and data.

"Connectivity, data and software are playing a more important role in the automotive industry," said a spokesman. "The BVRLA is embracing this change and our members have been getting to grips with the data protection, access and security challenges. Our Technical and Operational Management committee regularly discusses connected vehicles, and has been working with manufacturers for more than a year to ensure drivers of leased vehicles benefit from technologies such as Onstar."

Vauxhall said the emergency services assist system and 4G wifi are the two elements that Onstar customers have found most appealing. "Once you've experienced it, you will look for it in your next vehicle," said Vauxhall managing director Rory Harvey. Next year, Vauxhall will expand Onstar across more vehicles, and usage will increase because the company has "an awful lot of old stock" that wasn't fitted with Onstar, though this has now flushed through.

The company has also recently experienced its first Onstar-related vehicle theft recovery, with a car immobilised once it stopped and eventually repatriated to its owner.