WARREN, Mich. – General Motors is updating the 2001 Chevrolet Venture, Pontiac Montana and Oldsmobile Silhouette minivans with innovative features that extend its industry leadership in entertainment systems, interior versatility, and safety and security features. "We have introduced innovative features well ahead of other manufacturers," said Fred Schaafsma, vehicle line executive for minivans. "We do this by focusing on understanding and anticipating the diverse needs of our customers. Chevy Venture provides a superior level of versatility enabling families to do more; the Pontiac Montana provides a rugged sporty look and performance that is perfect for families that may be hesitant to buy a minivan; and the Oldsmobile Silhouette provides an upscale minivan for families and empty nesters." Since introducing the new Chevrolet Venture, Pontiac Montana and Oldsmobile Silhouette at the 1996 New York Auto Show, General Motors has become a leader in the minivan segment by meeting and anticipating those needs through its three distinct minivans. In fact, the GM Doraville Assembly Center will build the one millionth GM minivan of the current generation later this year. Interior Flexibility New for 2001 will be a stowable third row seat option which folds flat. This makes it even easier to adapt to changing passenger or cargo needs on the fly. No need to remove the third row seat to provide maximum cargo space behind the second row. Just fold the third row seat flat to floor and load. And good news, this stowable third row seat is lightweight and very easy for one person to operate. It does not have to be inserted/removed from a recessed location below the floor. The third row stowable seat comes with a new Convenience Center located behind the third row providing compartments to carry a variety of parcels and groceries as well as to provide covered storage for smaller valuable items such as cameras, purses and video cameras. In addition, the minivans will also receive new second row captain's chairs that fold flat to offer even more cargo options when carrying small stackable items or long items. Recognizing the customer demand within the market segment, GM has also designed easier to use recline and fold-flat levers, and new cupholders that have been built into the captain's chairs. Other interior feature upgrades will include a new, in-dash, six-disc CD player. New integrated cupholders have been added to the instrument panel. GM has also improved its Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning unit to provide faster heating and cooling of the interior. Versatrak In 2002, GM minivans will come equipped with Versatrak, an all-new all wheel drive system that is lightweight, quiet efficient and especially effective in low-traction situations. It's one of the most advanced approaches to all-wheel drive on the market today. Versatrak is a technology first within the minivan segment as it is the first AWD that allows for a flat load floor. GM is positioned to be the only minivan manufacturer capable of delivering the safety of an AWD system with the convenience of a reconfigurable third row seat requested by minivan customers. "We've accomplished something that other manufacturers said couldn't be done," said Jeanne Merchant, GM assistant vehicle line executive for minivans. "The introduction of Versatrak enables GM to offer its customers the best of two worlds. You get the driving benefits of a state-of-the-art all wheel drive system, without encroaching into the cargo space of the cabin or affecting the flat load floor design of our interiors." The all wheel drive system engagement is so smooth and automatic that it's nearly indiscernible to the driver and passengers. If one or both front wheels start to lose traction, the system activates automatically, with no buttons to push or levers to throw. Just step on the gas pedal! Entertainment Systems GM, the first to factory install video entertainment systems in its minivans, will introduce its second-generation entertainment package in 2001 for the Chevy Venture Warner Bros. Edition, the Pontiac MontanaVision, and the Oldsmobile Silhouette Premiere. The new system features a flip down LED video screen that is not only the largest in the industry at 6.8", but also provides arguably the sharpest picture easily viewed by occupants in all second and third row seating positions. And, very important to families with young children, the video screen folds up into the ceiling allowing easy pass-through from the front seats. To make the system more dynamic, dual-channel, wireless, infrared headphones have been added. These dual-channel headphones allow passengers the flexibility to choose between the video player or stereo system with the simple flip of a switch on the headphones, while the driver could listen to a third broadcast through the vehicle's sound system. "We pioneered factory-installed entertainment systems in minivans to help vacationers and busy families enjoy their time in the van!" said Merchant. "We also believe that if the children in the backseat are entertained, then the driver can concentrate on safely driving the vehicle without having to divert their attention from the road ahead." OnStar In 2001, OnStar will become standard equipment in all three brands providing an unsurpassed level of security and convenience. The first year of OnStar safety and security service will be included at no additional charge. The 2001 minivans will feature the newest generation OnStar, which includes hands-free personal calling and the Virtual Advisor services which allow for the voice activated retrieval of email, stock quotes, sports scores and more. OnStar operation relies on three key elements: global positioning system satellites that continually monitor the car's location; cellular communications to provide both voice and electronic signal linkage; and a 24-hour, 365-day-a-year connection to the OnStar customer service center. OnStar provides a broad range of assistance and services ranging from directions to emergency roadside assistance and at the touch of a button.