Teen drivers: if your parents buy a Chevy Malibu this fall and give you a knowing smile as they hand you the keys, be aware that they’re going to be watching you even when they’re not watching you.
At least that’s the promise of a new feature in the 2016 vehicle (which will be released later this year) that will use a second key fob assigned to a teen driver to create a report card of driving habits, from miles driven to maximum speed driven to the number of near-accidents that may be caused by distracted driving.
Chevy brought a demo version of the car (by semi truck; the vehicle’s not road ready yet) to the American-Statesman parking lot for me to take a quick look.
The dashboard I saw was a vast improvement over the dashboard displays I saw in cars at GM’s Austin facilities a few years ago. This one, at least from the short demo I got, seemed fast, sharp and much more responsive than some of the balkier, confusing screens of just two or three years ago. The demo I saw included Apple’s CarPlay, which is as slick and intuitive as you expect, closely replicating an iPhone screen but with large, easy-to-read buttons for apps such as Music, Spotify and Maps.
Apart from safety features that are becoming standard in new cars such as lane assistance and alerts when you get to close to a car in front of you, the biggest tech feature of the car will likely be its 4G/LTE service, sold by OnStar and provided by AT&T, which will allow for tethering of devices in the car via WiFi hotspot (more for passengers than the driver, you’d hope).
But the Teen Report Card is the feature that GM is hoping will attract the eye of parents who want to keep an eye on their teens even when they can’t be in the car with them. The feature doesn’t have anything specifically meant to prevent texting while driving, but a representative for GM said that “Forward collision alerts” and “Forward Collision Avoidance Braking” alerts may be an indicator that some distracted driving is happening.
Is this the kind of feature you’d be looking for in a new car? Let me know in the comments.