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OnStar expands to aftermarket

OnStar announces a replacement rearview mirror that offers its services in non-GM vehicles.

OnStar mirror
OnStar's aftermarket mirror offers emergency services and turn-by-turn navigation. OnStar

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LAS VEGAS--Today OnStar announced it would make its services available in non-GM cars through an aftermarket rearview mirror replacement. The mirror frame features the blue OnStar button, along with buttons for emergency response and hands-free phone calling, similar to its appearance in GM vehicles.

The bulky replacement mirror combines a GPS chip, accelerometer, Bluetooth hardware, and a cellular chip to connect with OnStar services and operators. OnStar uses Verizon for its voice and data connections.

OnStar equipped vehicles
OnStar used a fleet of non-GM vehicles to test its mirror. OnStar

The mirror uses its accelerometer to determine if a crash has occurred, which triggers OnStar's emergency collision response. An OnStar operator will attempt to contact the vehicle occupants and call emergency responders as needed, using the GPS signal to determine the car's location. The GPS also enables OnStar's stolen vehicle location service.

Similar to OnStar in GM vehicles, the aftermarket mirror provides turn-by-turn navigation from an OnStar operator. The device pairs with Bluetooth cell phones allowing hands-free calling. Users can also get a prepaid calling plan through OnStar, and use the mirror as a phone.

This aftermarket OnStar implementation suffers from a few limitations. It does not connect to a car's OBD-II port, so cannot offer remote door unlock or engine start. OnStar is also not offering an associated smartphone app, as it is with the Chevrolet Volt.

OnStar has tested the mirror in a wide variety of non-GM vehicles, and says it is compatible with cars from Ford, Lincoln, Toyota, Nissan, Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, and Honda.

The mirror is expected to be available in early Summer at Best Buy. OnStar recommends a professional installation. The unit will cost $299, with the cheapest service plan at $18.95 per month.