Earlier this week, Tesla made headlines when it announced it was temporarily unlocking extra battery capacity in a number of cars of customers affected by Hurricane Florence. The 60kWh configurations of the Model S and Model X electric vehicles—which were short-lived due to minimal demand—actually shipped with 75kWh battery packs, which could be software-unlocked for a fee.
GM’s OnStar network is the granddaddy of connected car platforms, which started providing safety monitoring and a concierge service more than two decades ago. Since then, OnStar’s services have expanded. I’m not sure you can buy a new vehicle from GM that contain an embedded 4G LTE modem and Wi-Fi, and the platform’s services can even tell you if your kid’s driving—or your own—needs improvement.
Not everyone chooses to keep paying for OnStar services after the initial free period. But for at least the next 30 days, if you have a Model Year 2006 or newer Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac vehicle with OnStar hardware and you live in one of the mid-Atlantic states being attacked by Florence, GM wants you to have access to the service.
The company says that Crisis Assist will include real-time directions to help you evacuate from or navigate through disaster areas; the service will also help find food, shelter, or medical supplies. OnStar is providing free calls from the car as well as activating Wi-Fi hotspots. The company has a long history of working together with first responders—routing emergency services to crashes—and says overflow calls to the Red Cross will be routed to its call centers to help with relief efforts.