SHANGHAI -- Imagine a driver from Guangzhou has an accident. He calls OnStar, but the Mandarin-speaking OnStar staffer doesn't understand Cantonese, the dialect spoken in Guangzhou.
"You can't plan and design a system to cover 1,000 different dialects," says Jonathan Hyde, director of telematics for GM China Group. GM assumes that most car buyers will speak Mandarin, the dialect taught in China's schools.
Hundreds of local dialects are just one challenge General Motors faces as it prepares to launch OnStar in China. But the chance to be the first to offer such services in the world's fastest-growing automotive market trumps any trepidation Hyde might feel.
"It's fun," he says of his job. "This is all a huge opportunity."