The End of GM Onstar? Automatic Promises Same Service For a LOT Less
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 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
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?
Filed Under: Auto News