General Motors is updating its on-board digital marketplace to allow customers to purchase fuel without ever having to leave the vehicle. You’ll still have to leave the confines of the vehicle to actually pump the gas, unless you live in New Jersey, but the exchange of money is handled entirely by the world’s first “in-dash fuel payment system.”
What a time to be alive.
The new service is available via the Shell widget, which is already featured on GM’s Marketplace app (which provides directions to the nearest Shell station). The corporate collaboration allows respective patrons to select a nearby Shell station, use the map to navigate there, park, select a pump, fill up, and drive away.Â Payment is automatically charged through Shell’s Fuel Rewards program.Â
While Marketplace is available on all 2017 or newer Chevrolet, GMC, Buick, and Cadillac vehicles, the Shell widget is only available on the Chevys. However, Automotive News reports that GM intends to expand the service to other brands later in the year, eventually making it available on 4 million vehicles by the end of 2018. That includes late-model cars that have already been purchased, as GM will just update the vehicle’s infotainment system remotely. You might not even notice anything has changed.
This author has been particularly harsh on automakers dipping into data acquisition,Â e-commerce, and in-car marketing as a new source of revenueÂ â€” as well as the increased emphasis on compulsory connectivity. People are essentially giving up their privacy so companies can offer a handful of contrived conveniences and make a little extra money on each customer.
However, that doesn’t mean regular folks don’t want these featuresÂ â€” especially if they can dissociate themselves from the potential downsides of implementation. If you don’t mind corporate partnerships trying to curry your favor or the prospect of a company selling your personal information, then this is a non-issue. But if those things are not to your liking, then you’re about to become to be exceptionally unhappy with the direction new cars are heading.
As other automakers rush to keep pace, General Motors is leading this particular charge in the United States. Marketplace was an incredibly smart addition, from a financial perspective, and has already yielded partnerships with various companies hoping the technology will help them reel in additional customers.
Marketplace already allows drivers to order and pay for things like drive-thru coffee and using it in conjunction with various franchises can also garner customers unique discounts. But critics claim the system’s design, which intends drivers to use the app while driving, is potentially hazardous. We’re of a similar mind, especially when it wouldn’t be any harder to book a table or hotel room via telephone.
“Thereâ€™s nothing about this thatâ€™s safe,” National Safety Council President Deborah Hersman said last last year. “If this is why they want Wi-Fi in the car, weâ€™re going to see fatality numbers go up even higher than they are now.”
General Motors maintains that Marketplace is easier to navigate than a standard cellphone and has been developed to require fewer steps. The company believes its dashboard apps are a safer alternative and aid in keeping people’s eyes off their mobile devices.
For now, the gassing widget is being run as a pilot program in Detroit, Seattle, and Houston. But the partnership between General Motors and Shell says the service will expand to the rest of the country in the coming months, eventually reaching more than 14,000 stations.
[Image: General Motors]