GM’s OnStar unit told North American International Auto Show attendees here that it will roll out a Stolen Vehicle Slowdown system in 2009 vehicles.
The system’s electronics will be able to take a request from a telephone-based OnStar advisor, then slow the stolen vehicle so it can’t move. OnStar executives said they expect the new technology to reduce the number of police chases involving stolen vehicles. The company added that National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that 30,000 stolen vehicle chases occur in the U.S. every year, with about 300 deaths as a result.
“This was an idea that has been around for awhile, but we weren’t sure how to approach it,” said Dan McGarry, an engineering group manager for OnStar. “We took a survey, and found we had an extremely high percentage of customers who wanted this feature.”
OnStar engineers said that the concept required only some software changes to the powertrain control modules in selected vehicles. The system works by locating the vehicle via GPS, then having an operator send a signal to the onboard OnStar module. Using the vehicle’s Control Area Network (CAN) databus, the module then “handshakes” with the engine control module, which commands the powertrain to slow down.
OnStar said it will put the technology on 1.7 million vehicles in the 2009 model year. Six Chevrolet models will incorporate the technology, along with five Cadillacs, one Buick, one Saturn, two Hummers, one Pontiac, and five GMC trucks.