GM revving up Google Maps for OnStar customers

The automaker will launch a new service this month to let GM drivers download Google Maps directions to their OnStar in-car systems.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read
GM's OnStar navigation system
General Motorls

Google is in the driver's seat with Ford and now General Motors, as both automakers are unveiling services to enable car owners to send Google Maps directions to their in-car systems.

GM said Tuesday that its new service will let drivers download Google Maps from their smartphones to their OnStar navigation systems, where they can listen to turn-by-turn directions. The feature, known as OnStar eNav, will become available through Google Maps at the end of this month, according to the automaker.

GM's OnStar navigation system
GM's OnStar navigation system General Motorls

The debut of OnStar eNav confirms rumors last month that GM had been working on a new service to compete with Ford's Sync system and one that would allow car owners to tap into Google Maps. It also ties in with plans by GM and OnStar to offer mobile mapping via Google's Android platform for the Chevy Volt electric car.

GM's announcement closely follows that of Ford, which said earlier Tuesday that it plans to offer drivers with Sync systems the ability to download Google Maps directions to their cars.

Though Ford and GM's new Google Maps options may sound alike, GM may have the upper hand with potentially more customers. Ford's service, which is set to debut this month, will work only with existing 2010 and 2011 Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicles. But GM's OnStar system will be an option on all turn-by-turn capable cars going as far back as 2006, the company said. And for the 2011 model year, the service will be standard on all OnStar-equipped retail cars.

Like Ford, GM sees its service as a way for drivers to avoid having to fumble with printed maps.

"eNav is a perfect solution for subscribers who like the flexibility of being able to use Google Maps to plan their trips in advance, but without the hassle of bringing printed maps into the vehicle," Nick Pudar, OnStar vice president of new business development, said in a statement.