Is Google Android to be integrated into GM cars?

Electric car

Google is reportedly in talks with General Motors about using its Android operating system with the carmaker's OnStar system.

Although neither Google nor GM has been confirmed working on such a service, numerous reports have linked the two companies.

Recently-named head of OnStar Chris Preuss told CNNMoney that this year the organisation will be working with a major technology company as part of a big technology push inside GM.

In a tweet earlier this month, Preuss also revealed that his company is developing applications at the current time and is "looking at opening it up".

How would it work?

As for what this link between car and Android would allow, Motor Trend magazine has suggested the Google addition would be able to give drivers the power to open or even start up their cars remotely.

However, a previous release from OnStar has shown how mobile and car technologies can work together for enhanced services for customers.

Earlier this year, a smartphone application was unveiled that will give Chevrolet Volt owners remote control over vehicle functions and OnStar features. Using a real-time data connection, it will let owners of Motorola's Droid, the Apple iPhone and the Blackberry Storm smartphones carry out tasks such as unlocking doors and preconditioning the interior temperature.

With the Volt being an electric car, the application also lets the driver check charge status and battery levels, set a charge time as well as a grid-friendly charge mode for off-peak times when electricity rates are at their lowest.

The OnStar Mobile Application will not be available until the launch of the Volt, production of which is set to start late this year. This hints that the Android development may not be unveiled until next year.

A market set for growth?

Last year, Gartner put out some recommendations on what it believed would help the automotive industry progress.

At the time, research vice president at Gartner Thilo Koslowski said in a statement: "The connected vehicle will become the technological foundation for a transformed automotive industry in the future. It will realise new product and service innovation, which will create new value propositions and business models and ultimately enable the connected drive."

Was Koslowski onto something? Is Google's purported work with GM a sign of things to come?

Another technology giant, Microsoft, has already entered into the industry by teaming up with Ford.

They announced a partnership in March which will see the Microsoft Hohm energy management application implemented in Ford's electric vehicles. The app is designed to assist drivers in deciding when and how to most efficiently recharge battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

What seems clear is that there is a correlation between the increasing acceptance of electric vehicles into the car manufacturing market and the heightened participation of technology giants like Microsoft and possibly Google in the industry.

Alan Mulally, president and chief executive of Ford Motor Company, touched on this link in a statement on the Hohm introduction into Ford cars: "Rechargeable vehicles represent a new frontier. Their commercialisation will take broad-based collaboration and systems solutions. Working together, Ford and Microsoft will provide the systems solutions to help facilitate this exciting future."

With such big names joining forces, it would not be surprising to see more collaborations crop up between the tech sector and the automotive industry in the coming years.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.