General Motors to enable drivers to buy stuff from their dashboard

General Motors will enable drivers to buy coffee, find gas or parking and make restaurant reservations by just touching the dashboard.

The automaker will roll out the new feature on millions of existing 2017 and 2018 model-year vehicles starting today. The system called Marketplace, links drivers in the US to vendors including Starbucks Corp, Dunkin' Donuts Inc and 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.''

According to commentators, the move to add on-demand retail capabilities to personal vehicles comes as GM tries to establish itself as a tech heavyweight in the shifting mobility landscape.

They add that GM is pushing to dig deeper into the electric powertrains and autonomy of tomorrow, to cater to the needs of increasingly connected drivers today. The Detroit-based carmaker calls Marketplace as the auto industry's first on-demand commerce platform of its kind.

The service will initially be limited to about a dozen vendors but it will add other brands and capabilities as it expands the service.

GM will be able to generate revenue from merchants featured on its in-dash Marketplace, Santiago Chamorro, GM vice president for global connected customer experience, said during a briefing for reporters. He added, customers will not be charged for using the service or the data transmitted to and from the car while making transactions.

''This platform is financed by the merchants,'' Chamorro said. GM will get paid for placing a merchant's application on its screens, and ''there's some level of revenue sharing'' based on each transaction, he said.

He added it was too soon to say how much revenue GM would generate from the system.