Hughes to power Volkswagen telematics

OnStar-like technology is coming to the car of the people. Eventually.

Audi's may be some of the most connected cars and have one of the slickest infotainment platforms on the market, but it doesn't offer the telematics capabilities that you can find in a defunct Pontiac Aztek.

Parent company Volkswagen is remedying that shortcoming, and will partner with Hughes Telematics to bring telematics services to its family of vehicles starting in 2013.

Hughes will provide safety, diagnostics, and convenience services, such as navigation and accident response, for Volkswagen. The telematics company powers Mercedes Benz's MBrace technology, which provides similar capabilities to GM's OnStar service.

Like OnStar's offering, Mercedes' MBrace services don't come cheap. The annual fee for the basic MBrace service is $280. If you want the Navigation and Destination capability offered with MBrace Plus, those operator-assisted directions will cost you $520 per year.

Which VW vehicles will get the telematics technology and when is still up in the air. It's likely that Audi vehicles will see the new solution first, before Volkswagen introduces telematics into its larger volume, less expensive lineup.

In the early 2000s, Volkswagen had a short-lived partnership with OnStar, but a VW spokesperson did not know why the partnership ended. OnStar's loss could be Hughes Telematics' gain. With expected sales of 8.1 million vehicles this year, Vollkswagen may overtake Toyota and GM as the world's biggest auto manufacturer.

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