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Home » Learn » When Tech Goes Too Far: New GM Vehicles Offer Shopping While Driving

When Tech Goes Too Far: New GM Vehicles Offer Shopping While Driving

About the New General Motors (GM) App

A new application from General Motors (GM) now allows you to order your favorite cup of Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts coffee from the open road. However, this has led to many asking is this convenience or a detriment to safe driving?


GM has decided to embrace newer in-car technologies by offering a suite of services from your vehicle. The cars with these features include 2017 and 2018 GMC, Chevrolet, Cadillac, and Buick vehicles. These vehicles come already equipped with Wi-Fi hotspots. When sitting in the car facing the dashboard, you will be able to view the “Marketplace” icon on your computer screen. Roughly 4 million vehicles should expect to see the change over the next year and a half.

The app isn’t just for coffee, either. Many retailers have partnered with GM to sell their own various products and services. This unique blend of technology can apply to transactions such as booking a hotel room or ordering a meal from a restaurant chain.

Technology and Distracted Driving

Of course, certain groups are not entirely happy about this change. Even though it is illegal in many states to talk on a mobile phone while operating a vehicle, it is still a very common occurrence and one that causes accidents every day. The National Safety Council reports that “cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year.”

It’s safe to say that not everything about this application is, well, safe. Distracted driving involves texts, phone calls, emails, social media, music applications, and more. This new in-car shopping app is just one more item that could be added to the list. And it’s not just because a driver only needs to push a few buttons to operate the app, such as “Book a Hotel”. They can also be distracted by the considerations behind the decision, such as “How much money can I spend on a hotel room?” or “How long do I need to stay at the hotel?”

According to the American Driving Survey, United States residents “drove a total of 2.45 trillion miles” in 2015. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports 17,600 minutes behind the wheel each year. Consumer brands and retailers, for this reason, should take some level of responsibility in allowing drivers to simply drive.

What the App Offers

Driving distractions aside, the team at General Motors believes that this application is a convenient way to give people the resources they need on a convenient platform.

GM Vice President Santiago Chamorro explained there are certain services that are inaccessible from a person’s regular route. This new tech now paves the way for busy professionals to make purchases or reservations while making use of time during the daily commute.

The argument is that this app allows drivers to handle things from their phones with greater convenience. Instead of a driver pulling out their phone, or pulling over to the side of the road in order to get to their phones, which puts them in danger or lose valuable driving time, this app allows them to have a greater amount of control. With just a few convenient clicks of a few buttons, they can reserve a parking spot or find the next gas station. For instance, instead of picking up your phone to call TGI Friday’s for a table reservation, the app can do it for you hands-free.

Here are the six categories and the brands GMC has partnered with to bring about a more unified driving and commerce experience:

  • Fuel up: Shell and Exxon
  • Find Parking: Parkopedia
  • Order Food: Applebee’s, IHOP, Wingstop, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and
  • Reserve Table: TGI Fridays
  • Reserve Hotel: Priceline
  • Shop for Car: GM dealers and discounts for car parts, accessories, and services such as tire rotations

The entire platform has been financed by these diverse merchants. While the market is still unsure how much in revenue GM is receiving from these brands, there are plans to add options for vendors in the future. And of course, GM also uses the app to earn additional revenue from their current clientele. They offer data packages and other GM subscriptions that are available while consumers drive. If you are still unsure how this application enriches your driving experience, you’re not the only one. However, for passengers who are not in control of the vehicle, there seems to be great value to these options.

How the App Works

It’s likely you’re going to see more instances of in-car eCommerce in the near future. So how does this application work? GM’s app uses what’s called machine learning in operating the technology. Machine learning uses your current location to decide what to sell/ market to you. Here’s what GM has to say about it:

“Marketplace… leverages machine learning from real-time interaction data, such as location, time of day and a driver’s established digital relationship with third-party merchants, to offer highly personalized experiences.”

To pay for your purchases, the application saves your credit or debit card information so you don’t have to pull out your wallet every time.

To their credit, GM has explained that the app has a limited number of options on purpose so that drivers do not find themselves scrolling, searching, or pressing buttons for their entire trip. The process, they explain, is about as fast as finding the right station on the radio.

Tips to Prevent Tech Distractions

Now that corporations will be targeting consumers from the front seat of their car, this is the best time to develop new habits to avoid distracted driving. Many organizations will offer advice such as turning off your phone or allowing your passengers to run the GPS. Others suggest stricter methods such as shutting off the radio altogether. However, remember that you know yourself better than anyone, including what tends to keep you sidetracked. Make a short list of the ways you can personally keep your eyes on the road and away from what distracts you.

If you need your phone for directions and maps, you can still keep yourself safe by setting your mobile phone to “auto answer.” This way, if you get a text or phone call while driving, it sends back a response that indicates you are too busy to respond at the moment.

Before hitting the road, complete all the tasks you would normally accomplish in the car. This includes charging your phone and streaming your music playlist. Technology is a valuable tool, however, it’s important to use it correctly. We encourage you to explore new ways to make your busy day less hectic while remaining safe on the road, especially if you’re going to be making the most of technology with GM’s new shopping app.

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