General Motors Co. is about to enable drivers to buy coffee, find gas or parking and make restaurant reservations with just a touch of the dashboard.
INTERNATIONAL - General Motors Co. is about to enable drivers to buy coffee, find gas or parking and make restaurant reservations with just a touch of the dashboard.

The automaker will roll out the new feature on millions of existing 2017 and 2018 model-year vehicles starting Tuesday. Called Marketplace, the system links drivers to vendors including Starbucks Corp., Dunkin’ Donuts Inc. and Priceline.com to place take-away orders or make reservations with taps of their touchscreens.

“The average American spends 46 minutes per day on the road,” Santiago Chamorro, GM’s vice president of global connected customer experience, said at a press event in Detroit. “We want to make this time more productive, more enjoyable and safer.”

The move to add on-demand retail capabilities to personal vehicles comes at a time when GM is trying to establish itself as a tech heavyweight in the shifting mobility landscape. As GM pushes deeper into the electric powertrains and autonomy of tomorrow, it also wants to meet the needs of increasingly connected drivers today. The Detroit-based carmaker calls Marketplace the auto industry’s first on-demand commerce platform of its kind.

Fresh espresso pours into a shot glass at the Starbucks Corp. Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle, Washington, U.S. Photographer: David Ryder/Bloomberg
GM’s service -- which is made for use while driving -- is initially limited to about a dozen vendors but the automaker wants to add other brands and capabilities as it expands the service. Current offerings include reserving tables at TGI Friday’s, ordering take-out from restaurants including Applebee’s and IHOP, and pre-ordering coffees. Drivers can also use Priceline to find hotel rooms, but they still have to use their phone to complete the reservation.

The service also lets drivers locate the closest Shell or Exxon Mobil gas stations, though in-dash payment for fueling isn’t yet available.

GM has gotten a jump on other automakers when it comes to offering shopping services in the dashboard, said Mike Ramsey, a research director at Gartner Inc.

“In North American and Europe, this is definitely advanced,” Ramsey said in an interview. “GM is definitely ahead of everybody.”

- BLOOMBERG