OnStar navigation could soon be free, and sponsored

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News
"Thank you for calling OnStar. Looks like you've stumbled into a pretty rough part of town. While we are working on directions to the freeway, have you considered what a home security system can do for you? …"

This dialogue is a fictitious, of course. But if you haven't heard, OnStar is considering an additional revenue stream -- advertising -- to help subsidize its vast network. Rather than charging for its turn-by-turn direction system, the revenue generated by advertising would support it. OnStar would provide that service free of charge to its subscribers.

That's a great idea!

The story was posted last month on CNNmoney.com. Chris Preuss, who heads OnStar, said the company is looking for additional revenue streams. Preuss said the company also is considering several business models that would expand OnStar outside of the automotive arena. An announcement is expected some time this summer.

Chris, here's a suggestion: How about a free (or substantially discounted) OnStar link for all mobile phone users, even the owners of non-GM cars?

Say I'm walking down Chicago's Michigan Avenue, desperately searching for the historic Berghoff restaurant. I pull out my mobile phone, press down on the OnStar app and within seconds I hear:

“Hi, Rick. Before we connect you to OnStar, I want to remind you it's summer, time for baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.”

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