Free services from OnStar may start appearing on new General Motors models as the company responds to the growing popularity of Ford's Sync technology.
An upgraded OnStar may link vehicles to Facebook or even translate voice messages to text. The next generation of OnStar will have improved services for emergency response and a new tag line: "Live On."
OnStar launched in 1996 exclusively for GM models and has focused largely on safety and security, offering emergency services, driving directions, and stolen vehicle tracking. That focus has contrasted Ford's Sync system that targets entertainment-based tasks including music and phone functions.
Some vehicles, like the 2011 Chevrolet Malibu, offer selected OnStar services as complimentary for a limited time. OnStar with turn-by-turn navigation is standard for six months on the Malibu.
OnStar is offered on many 2011 GM models and has more than 5 million subscribers. Starting with the 2011 model year, brand-specific smart phone applications will be available to monitor diagnostic services and perform any task for which you would use a key fob.
Currently, OnStar activation costs between $199 and $299 per year in GM vehicles, while Sync is a one-time $395 option.
With competitors like Ford's Edge offering MyFord Touch technology, the market for in-car technology has never been higher. If GM does introduce additional OnStar features, on what new vehicle should the technology debut? What features should OnStar take on to better compete with Sync?