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GM CEO in Boston talks of connected car

GM chief executive Dan Akerson spoke about new technology initiatives at the Boston College Chief Executives’ Club of Boston Thursday.Barry Chin/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

In a speech in Boston Thursday General Motors chief executive Dan Akerson said the American car company will continue to woo younger drivers by implementing technologies commonly found on smartphones in its cars.

Akerson spoke at the Boston College Chief Executives’ Club of Boston Thursday afternoon, outlining some of the initiatives the automotive giant has undertaken since receiving a government bailout package in 2008.

“It’s a different GM than it was a few years ago,” Akerson said.

GM has already announced that beginning next year most models will have 4G-LTE mobile broadband, allowing each car to be a wireless hotspot. “We want to turn every car into an Internet node,” Akerson said.


The company has also created a website,, for coders and Web developers to create apps for car owners; it already has 2,000 registered users, according to Akerson. Such apps may do things like store driver’s credit card information, allowing them, for example, to order and pay for fast food before going through a drive-through window.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a study Wednesday that found the proliferation of hands-free devices and technologies inside cars increase driver distraction and can be dangerous. But Akerson said he believes that some of the new technologies under development will allow drivers and passengers to safely send e-mails and tweets verbally.

“It can actually help with distracted driving,” Akerson said.

Earlier this week GM announced it had retained a new team of advertising agencies that includes Boston’s Hill Holliday for its Cadillac brand. Hill Holliday’s chief creative officer, Lance Jensen, has received plaudits within the industry for creating striking ads that appeal to young consumers, such as the “Drivers Wanted” campaign for Volkswagen.

After his speech, Akerson took questions from local business executives, many of whom asked about his attitude toward government intervention in business.


The chief executive, who joined the auto company in 2009 after the US bailout, defended the move, comparing the auto bailout to government aid given to people affected by natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

“This is much more systemic than a natural disaster,” Akerson said. “We could’ve failed. I don’t think we did. I don’t think we will.”

Gail Waterhouse can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at gailwaterhouse.