James Kim, Saab and GPS

I am saddened to hear that they have found the body of James Kim, the man that was lost with his family in Oregon and went to go look for help, never to return. Its wild country out there and I think we sometimes forget that when most of us live in suburbs or cities that have tamed wilderness for the time being.

The thing that I can’t figure out about this story is that they had a car and no one found them. They specifically mentioned that they had recent model SAAB in one of the articles. I also own a Saab so I know that they all come default equipped with OnStar locators. Why didn’t they use the OnStar system and its GPS to contact help? Why couldn’t GM pinpoint the location of the lost car from its GPS signal? That’s what those systems are for right?

I did some searching and found out that the answer is because although GPS is used to pinpoint where a car is from their OnStar system, the original connection is made through cellular towers. And they were out of the range of cell towers. How dissapointing that this techonogy is really flawed and can’t help you when you really need it.

I think this is a wakeup call to GM to offer real satellite GPS systems in this OnStar system or else its really not worth it. Why pay for a service if it can’t even help you in a situation when you really need it? if they would have had a real GPS locator on that car, they would have been found as soon as the family knew to look for them. Its really sad that this could have been prevented.

I don’t activate my OnStar system because I don’t think its worth it, and you shouldn’t either.


One thought on “James Kim, Saab and GPS

  1. Actually, not all Saabs have On-Star. GM took it out of the 9-3 model in the 2006 model year and it only returned in the 2008 model year. This was done because GM knew the old analog systems was going away and an upgrade for the digital cell towers was needed. Satellite is used to locate the car, and celluar towers are used for communication. Imagine trying to equip a car with a satellite dish to contact the satellite in space. You would need a trailer truck with a huge dish in tow to make it work. That is why it is cell tower based. Come up with a better idea and sell it rather than bash the one that exists. I personally have the safety and security and love it. I cannot get locked out of my car, and in an accident, it will call me automatically if in range of a cell tower to check to see if I am okay (works in most instances).

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