General Motors’ OnStar division has been offering an aftermarket option, called For My Vehicle. While previously costing a prohibitive $299 to install, the offering was slashed this week to $99… including installation.
The move is almost certainly a loss-leading play, as the device has struggled to gain sales in a struggling economy. To recap, the rear-view-mirror replacement plugs into the data bus on many non-GM car models, connecting them via the integrated cell phone, and GPS, to the OnStar network.
The benefit includes much of the standard OnStar service, including turn-by-turn navigation, as well as automated crash response. The service also includes newer OnStar functions, such as Bluetooth integration with cell phones.
OnStar FMV has been on the market for over a year, and was a result of the General Motors bankruptcy. During bankruptcy, part of General Motors’ restructuring plan called for operating OnStar as an autonomous division, no longer forced to limit its technology to GM vehicles. Aside from FMV, OnStar was also offered on Saab cars, after Saab split from General Motors. The Saab offering was short-lived, as Saab ultimately went bankrupt shortly after putting post-GM models into production.
The monthly service is not free, however. In fact, it costs the same as if your car came with OnStar from the factory. Plans start at $18.95 per month without navigation, and $28.95 per month with navigation included. Airtime minutes are extra, but the Verizon-backed voice calling provides better cellular reception than a standard phone. This is because in-car cellular radios are permitted by the FCC to emit more radiation than a standard cellular phone. The FCC permits this because the distance from the radio to a driver or passenger makes it safe to output beyond 1.5 SAR.
Probably the best part of this particular new deal, is that the device can do one thing without active OnStar service. It does still function as an in-car Bluetooth integration. Typical Bluetooth in-car installs can run well over the $99 price of the OnStar FMV hardware-and-installation. This means you can get a great in-car Bluetooth setup, for very little money.
Still, some may turn away the $99 Bluetooth offer. OnStar FMV still lacks what many cars come standard with, such as a built-in compass and auto-dimming technology.
OnStar did not announce any plans to refund previous FMV customers, who may have recently purchased. Lead installer Best Buy however does offer a 30 day price match guarantee, which likely applies to recent buyers of OnStar FMV.