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GM offers OnStar to other automakers

Automotive News reports on GM's licensing of OnStar.

Automotive News

Automotive News

NEW ORLEANS -- General Motors is talking with several automakers about putting GM's OnStar telematics service in their vehicles, says OnStar's top executive.

"We did make a decision late last year that we are now talking to other vehicle manufacturers about the potential of bringing OnStar services to their vehicles either in the United States and Canada or other parts of the world," OnStar President Chet Huber told Automotive News here during the NADA convention.

Huber declined to identify the automakers.

In the past, OnStar had deals with Acura, Volkswagen, Audi, Subaru and Isuzu and a private-label deal with Lexus. Huber said that for a number of reasons, "We both decided -- OnStar-GM and the other manufacturers" -- to part ways.

Part of that had to do with the switch from analog to digital, which the other manufacturers were not ready to do, he said.

Because auto sales are down, OnStar added fewer subscribers than planned in 2008. But Huber said OnStar is adding subscribers who buy used GM vehicles. He said about 20 percent of people buying used GM vehicles are subscribing to OnStar.

"And that's without a whole lot of marketing," he added. "It's a new range of customers for us and a new opportunity for dealers to participate."

OnStar, which now has about 6 million subscribers, provides navigation assistance, accident notification, road-side assistance and vehicle diagnostics.

OnStar doesn't release financial figures, but Huber said it is profitable: "Our profitability has been improving year over year for a while."

(Source: Automotive News)