OnStar expanding its vehicle communications service in global markets

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 2, 2011

After having spent 15 years trying to make it in North America, OnStar is now expanding its vehicle communications service in global markets. OnStar, a GM unit, aims to enter markets of the Middle East and Latin America.

It also seeks to expand in China, which it entered in 2009. At the 2011 Management Briefing Seminars recently held, OnStar president Linda Marshall said that there are other world markets being considered.

But she admits that there will be several cultural challenges that will have to be resolved. She cited an example in China where the company starts the employment process by asking newly hired operators for their call center to get into a car and then giving them a demonstration of the service.

This is because most of those who apply for the job don’t own or drive a vehicle. Another issue is the language barrier. There are world markets that consist of regions that speak different languages.

OnStar previously didn’t have to find solutions to these obstacles as it has served a population that speaks mostly English in the last 15 years. Presently, OnStar is serving about 6 million subscribers. Marshall worked at the telecommunications industry before entering the vehicle services company last January.

She said that a company intern suggested to her that OnStar should have more French-speaking operators to serve Quebec drivers. She said that the service menu of OnStar continues to evolve. But for now, OnStar offers a service that gives live-voice assistance to drivers for turn-by-turn directions or automatic emergency response when a vehicle collision is detected.

Marshall launched a version this summer that may be installed into most vehicles and is priced at less than $300 at national retail chains. This new retail version, dubbed For My Vehicle, could be used by more than 90 million U.S. vehicles. Before this version was released, OnStar was only available to GM models, and it was mainly a factory-installed system.

Topics: onstar

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