Telematics@China: High-end G-Book vs Popular OnStar


Since the beginning of 2009, China has stood out as the world’s largest country of car production and sales, which has drawn global carmakers’ attention to China. In the meantime, mainstream vehicle OEMs attach great importance to the new Telematics industry, which is closely associated with vehicle production. With Toyota’s launch of G-Book in China, China has started to witness the start-up of the Telematics industry. Following Toyota, GM will launch OnStar service in China this December.

Although the launch of G-Book service in China is of great significance, it is oriented only to high-end vehicles and available to only a small number of consumers. In contrast, OnStar service is provided at a much lower price and has quickly expanded from Cadillac to Chevrolet to have millions of users. Compared with G-Book, the popularization of OnStar enables Telematics to quickly reach to a wide range of common users. As the largest carmakers in the world, Toyota and GM have chosen the same year and same overseas market to launch Telematics services. No doubt the contention between G-Book and OnStar will be a major highlight in China Telematics industry in 2009.

In fact, discussions about China Telematics industry have been on for some time. As early as last year, Telematics@China 2008 summit held in Shanghai attracted many elite delegates from the global Telematics industry and opened up panel discussions on Telematics. Just as expected at the time of the forum, “2009 will witness the launch of China’s Telematics,” Toyota launched the popular G-Book service in China this year. In just its first few months, G-Book service has attracted thousands of high-end vehicle owners as its first Telematics service users in China.The concern of Chinese auto consumers is shifting from the car itself to car-related information services.

China had good vehicle sales in the first half of 2009. Accordingly, major OEMs have started a new round of capacity expansion schemes. Statistics show that China will reach an automobile production capacity surplus over 4 million by 2012, about half of the total automobile output in 2008. It’s fair to assume that the market will be faced with great competitive pressure as OEMs push their new products onto the market. Now, how to have competitive advantages through differentiated products has become a strategic issue pondered by OEM decision makers. The access conditions of new energy vehicles released recently by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) will provide new drive for OEMs to define Telematics strategies as soon as possible..

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