OnStar for All: GM Expands Telematics Availability, Teases Future 4G Services

Wish you had OnStar in your car, but don't want to purchase a new General Motors vehicle? Fret not -- GM announced today that owners of non-GM vehicles or older GM products built without OnStar will be able to add the telematics service in the near future.

Owners will be able to replace their original interior rear view mirror with one designed by GM, which incorporates several OnStar features. According to the automaker, the device is designed to work on 99% of the 20 best-selling non-GM vehicles from the past decade, which GM says equates to roughly 55 million cars and trucks. Additional models will be certified for the installation in the months to come.

Adding the mirror allows drivers access to OnStar features like one-touch roadside assistance, turn-by-turn navigation, automated crash response, and stolen vehicle location assistance. Additionally, the mirror also incorporates Bluetooth-based hands-free calling.

"This move in to the consumer electronics space represents the biggest development in our business model since introducing OnStar as standard across all GM products several years ago," Chris Preuss, OnStar president, said in a prepared release. "It represents a quantum leap forward in our plans to grow our business and provide a strong new revenue base for GM and OnStar, from which we can further develop our core offerings in the factory-equipped market."

The mirror itself will be available through select retailers, albeit first through consumer electronics giant Best Buy. Pricing for the mirror itself is set at $299, although installation will run an extra $75 to $100. As is the case with OEM OnStar installations, the service itself will be offered in multiple permutations, priced from $18.99 a month to $199 a year.

Although this announcement could exponentially grow OnStar's customer base, there may still be some incentive in obtaining OnStar within a GM-built vehicle. As predicted earlier this year, the telematics wing is developing a new OnStar system that essentially serves as a platform for various infotainment and connectivity applications, much like Ford's latest iterations of Sync.

The system, previewed at the Consumer Electronics Show in a Buick LaCrosse, uses Verizon Wireless' new 4G LTE mobile broadband network to provide a number of interesting features. A vehicle monitoring function allows owners to keep remote tabs on their vehicle, thanks to a series of cameras mounted in- and outside the vehicle.  Those same cameras are also tied to what GM calls an impact detection feature, which records and uploads footage once the vehicle is involved in a collision.

The Home Control feature allows drivers to control climate and lighting systems at their home via the touch screen interface. That same piece of hardware also allows drivers to access an electronic copy of the owners manual, but those obsessed with social connectivity may be more inclined to use a Skype-based video chat function (available only when parked, of course). When driving, a new voice-operated navigation system, which references traffic camera networks to help avoid gridlock, may be more useful.

Currently, GM says this entire system is conceptual, but officials are heavily hinting that many -- if not all -- of these features could soon work their way into production vehicles. One feature that will soon become reality, however, is a new application designed for smartphones running Google's Android operating system. The program, billed by GM as a "public pilot test," enables drivers to send and receive text messages and update Facebook statuses with voice commands.

Source: GM

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