GM Installs ‘Marketplace’ in Its Cars, So You Can Order Coffee Through the Radio

Order coffee, reserve a table, or grab some grub all from your infotainment system…is it too much for a car?

byRob Stumpf|
GM News photo

General Motors has rolled out a feature which seems much like like the Apple Pay of cars, letting drivers make purchases completely from their connected vehicle. Through a new commerce system called "Marketplace" being just launched by the manufacturer, passengers will be able to peruse the infotainment system of newer GM vehicles equipped with the feature, and perform tasks from redeeming a coupon for gasoline or place a food order without ever having to interact with their phones.

In a collaboration with companies like Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, TGI Fridays, Shell, Applebee's, and more, GM is enabling an in-dash marketplace for its customers so that they can be even more connected to the world. Not only will owners be able to interact with their infotainment systems for the radio and navigation, but soon they will also be able to order food, get discounts on gas, and coordinate deliveries without needing to pick up their cell phone.

Roughly 1.9 million vehicles purchased through 2017 will be automatically upgraded to receive the marketplace upon its release. By the end of 2018, it is estimated that GM will have 4 million vehicles equipped with its infotainment commerce system across the entire lineup of its brands. This raises a concern, however, as AAA has blamed elevated distracted driving accident figures on infotainment systems. Not only are infotainment systems becoming more complex and feature-rich, but now 4 million new vehicles be on the road with the ability to order food on the go.

Many newer vehicle brands are flexing their tech muscles by offering vehicles that are as connected to the world as a cell phone. This means that no matter where the car is driving, as long as there is cellular service allowing the car to talk over the 4G LTE networks, it will be able to communicate with a service and receive over-the-air updates for maps, traffic information, and now even your Starbucks order (without trying to sell you extra gift cards).

Previously, we at The Drive have talked about the ability for auto manufacturers to farm data from drivers based on their driving habits and use it to cross-sell products. It was suggested that the consumer would be offered in-car services from the touch of a screen, a sort of in-vehicle advertisement. Sure enough, GM isn't doing this out of the kindness of its heart.

"There are different business models depending on vendor," GM's Director Communications, Vijay Iyer, told The Drive, "But yes there is a financial model integrated in to Marketplace."

Iyer goes on to say that the marketplace and its participating merchants must have customer consent to access any data pertaining to the customer and follow a strict set of terms and conditions. Information like location data is provided to Marketplace so it can provide more accurate data to tailor the results to the driver's needs. No financial information is actually stored on the vehicle either, so the actual processing of transactions happens on the partner network.

Sure, there are some interesting features on the system—you can find parking and fuel at the touch of a button, or reserve a table at one of the participating restaurants, even schedule deliveries to your home. But when privacy and safety are a concern, the trade-off may be controversial at best.