The End of GM Onstar? Automatic Promises Same Service For a LOT Less

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GM’s OnStar service has been a pretty innovative product since its introduction. The one-touch ability to get directions and automatic detection if you were in an accident are great things for many drivers. Yet, there is a newer, cheaper service that does the same thing. Can OnStar survive competition?

The End of GM Onstar? Automatic Promises Same Service For a LOT Less

The Automatic product provides a very similar service to OnStar for a LOT less. Is this the end of OnStar?

The new product called “Automatic” is a gadget that connects your car to your smartphone via Bluetooth and a plugin adapter. It provides many of the same services that OnStar does like:

  • Driving Feedback – driver improvement tips to save fuel, trip timeline
  • Crash Alert – notifies help personnel if you are in an accident
  • Service Notices – pushes notifications to smart phone for service, displays check engine code information
  • Parking Reminder – remembers where you parked and leads you to your vehicle
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While Automatic bills itself as a driver improvement device, we think, the other features have a LOT of merit like crash alert and diagnosis of check engine codes. All of these services are available for a one-time fee of $99.95.

In contrast, OnStar offers 5 different plans with the cheapest at $19.95 per month. Their full suite of offerings is $299 per year and is mostly similar to Automatic. The almost $300/year fee versus a one-time charge of $100 is quite a bit of difference in price.

There has been a lot of discussion lately on the “in car” navigation and entertainment offerings from manufactures. While these services are great for an average driver, most of the service offerings can be obtained with a smart phone. In fact, you could argue, that a smartphone is not only more capable than an in-car system, it is more cost effective since you get a phone as well. The downside is that if you are in an accident, you might not be able to access your cellphone and this is where these services come in. Also, the diagnosis of the check engine light is pretty darn handy.

The Automatic gets this and is basically just an add-on to your current cell phone. No need to pay a separate annual service (a pricey one at that), rather you get all the benefits through your current service contract and just need to buy their adaptor.

While the in-car systems are a profit machine for automakers, third-party providers like Automatic are taking a chunk out of that. Will OnStar services survive the competition? Probably for a while, yet it won’t be long until consumers find better, cheaper alternatives.

What do you think of services like Automatic? Useful or not worth the money?

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Filed Under: Auto News


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  1. toy says:

    No comments yet…

    Guess others are like me – on star – who cares.

    If my wife travelled lots without me and kids were in the back, it might give me some peace of mind, but for the cost… probably not enough, even at the Automatics cost.

    Smart phone alone is good enough for Toyotas.

    He11, I don’t think I will pony up the dough to keep my satellite radio going after the previous owner gets wise and cancels the account 😉

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      Haha… I bought satellite radio really to try for a while. I’m bored with it and normally drive with the radio off. 🙂

      I wasn’t really sure on the reaction to this story. Jason thought it was pretty interesting that OnStar would have competition and possibly become extinct. I’m not so sure myself since there will always be those people who want all these services even if they don’t fully use them.

      Anyway, thanks for commenting as always!


  2. mk says:

    won’t pay for onstar or sirius/xm radio. Cars do not need it and nothing more than wasted money.

  3. Ken says:

    Not worth it and it can be used to spy on you.

  4. Mickey says:

    When I had the 06 Silverado OnStar charged me for the 2nd year at $240 back in 07. Way too much. I cancelled it but it took an act of god to get it cancelled. As for XM I have it on both vehicles. Wife gets her gospel music she wants and I get the 50’s-80’s. Yes I can use my Ipod Nano but I prefer what I have. I can agree with the rest when they say there is no use for smart phones. Don’t need the camera, don’t text and don’t need the internet on a phone. I have other devices for that. You want to talk then call.

  5. mk says:

    the problem with me is the country music stations on my mother in laws xm/sirius radio is they ONLY have like 5 country stations vs. like 8 local stations for country on the regular radio. Why would I pay for it if the regular radio has more stations and is better?

    I can see if traveling LONG distances in the boonies where NO radio stations come in or if the employee’s company pays for it or you like say gospel or other off the beaten path like cemetary music like my mother in law likes that puts me to sleep since regular radio doesn’t have those stations. Still, I have much better things to spend my money on for sure.

    What ticks me off is the new tundra and almost all vehicles now have the stupid 7″ touchscreen which I hate and do not need. Why pay extra even if standard eqmt. since I know that feature is built into the already overinflated base msrp of the new vehicles.

  6. Mike T says:

    “Can OnStar survive competition?”
    i don’t think so.because The new product “Automatic” has some thing more and special feature as compared to Onstar.

    • Will says:

      just a bit disagree with you sir,
      OnStar FMV provides you with all the support options you’d expect from a top-rated roadside assistance service. They offer both toll-free phone and email support to contact them directly.

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