GM's plan is a major event in the battle between the two players in satellite ratio - XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. and Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. GM and its subsidiary,
Hughes Electronics, hold a 15 percent stake in XM, while DaimlerChrysler has invested $100 million in Sirius. Ford Motor Co. also invested in Sirius, but later sold its shares.
At stake is the industry leadership position - potentially millions in profits - if satellite radio becomes as common in future vehicles as cable TV has become in households.
Chrysler will introduce Sirius radio as a dealer-installed option in the fall, while Ford will introduce Sirius next year. Most other mass-market automakers are on the sidelines, awaiting the outcome.
GM is planning a quick rollout to gain a competitive edge, said Rick Lee, vice president of satellite radio service for GM's OnStar unit. "We broke a lot of production rules to get XM on so many cars this fast."
OnStar is coordinating the introduction of satellite radio for GM's marketing divisions.
GM has had limited experience with satellite radio. Cadillac introduced XM as a factory option last November on the Seville and Deville sedans. An estimated 1,000 Cadillac buyers have chosen the option - about one out of 45 cars sold during that period.
According to one insider's estimate, GM expects to sign up about 80,000 subscribers in the last three months of 2002. The automaker will offer the service on 25 models, and expects an adoption rate of 15 percent.But the adoption rate could soar for models that are popular among tech-savvy consumers.
In Phoenix, Lund Cadillac has ordered all of its 2003 Escalades and Escalade EXTs to be equipped with satellite radio. According to sales manager Larry Appleby, the feature has a strong appeal for younger buyers.
The vigorous Pontiac promotion also should boost dealer orders, predicts Gary Steilen, marketing manager for the Pontiac Grand Am. "If we put some effort behind it, we could easily double the order rate," Steilen said.