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Phones to unlock smarter Holden Commodore

Phone link: Holden's sophisticated MyLink communication system in the new VF Commodore will open up new doors.

Smartphone-friendly infotainment system gives owners remote control of their Holden

Holden logo10 Feb 2013

By BARRY PARK

HOLDEN’S Commodore is keying up to be the first lion-badged passenger car to make unlocking the doors as easy as picking up your mobile phone.

The introduction on the new VF Commodore of the MyLink infotainment system, which piggybacks an internet connection via a smartphone, follows closely behind the system’s debut in the Barina small car.

But while the Barina was first to get the system, it is now likely that the radically redesigned Commodore will showcase the new technology that blurs the line between smartphone and car.

Like the Barina, the VF Commodore will offer owners the choice of in-car, smartphone-like apps that allow owners to stream live internet feeds of music and even international radio stations directly through the audio system.

Changes to the Commodore’s steering wheel will even give owners the ability to control their phone via the wheel-mounted buttons, although functions will be limited.

Holden Design director Andrew Smith told GoAuto that Holden’s electrical engineers were starting to explore what more could be done inside the Commodore through smartphones.

“As we get into the launch of the vehicle [the VF Commodore] we’ll start and talk about the flexibility we have in apps and how much work we can do to grow what’s there,” Mr Smith said.

“Will the Commodore get it first? Quite possibly, yes.

“As we get into the long-lead [part of the VF Commodore’s launch], ask that question specifically of the electrical guys.”

Smartphone integration also allows Holden to assess if the time is right to relaunch a new version of its failed Holden Assist service that once connected drivers with a 24-hour concierge.

However, where MyLink connects owners directly with their car via a mobile phone, the Holden Assist system relied on an integrated mobile phone SIM card and an in-built GPS unit to connect users with a call centre.

The service – which could detect if a car’s airbags were fired in an accident, unlock doors remotely, warn of a flat battery and even kill the car’s engine if the police requested it – was quietly dropped after customers largely overlooked both its cost and limited benefits.

However, Mr Smith sid that after experiencing GM’s OnStar in-car service in the US, he is keen for a similar system to be introduced here via Holden.

“If we could find a way to do it [an OnStar-style service] here, I know there is a big desire to do it,” Mr Smith said.

“I became fairly addicted to OnStar. I just hit the [OnStar] button all the time because they were like my servants..

“I actually had three cars [while seconded from Holden to the US] before I got into OnStar, but then I got incredibly lazy. I’d just ask ‘where’s the nearest Starbucks or find me a restaurant’ and they’d direct me there.”

Holden is expected to reveal more details about the new MyLink system’s capabilities closer to the VF Commodore’s showroom launch mid-year.

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