General Motors is talking with several automakers about putting GM's OnStar service in their vehicles, says OnStar's top executive.
"We did make a decision late last year that we are now talking to other vehicle manufacturers about the potential of bringing OnStar services to their vehicles either in the United States and Canada — or as we start to look at other parts of the world, potentially collaborating in other parts of the world," OnStar President Chet Huber told Automotive News today.
Huber declined to name the automakers.
In the past, OnStar had deals with Acura, Volkswagen, Audi, Subaru and Isuzu and a private label deal with Lexus.
Huber said that for a number of reasons, "We both decided — OnStar-GM and the other manufacturers" to part ways. Part of that had to do with the switch from analog to digital, which the other manufacturers were not ready to do, he said.
Because auto sales are down, OnStar added fewer subscribers than planned in 2008. But Huber said OnStar is adding subscribers who buy used GM vehicles. He said about 20 percent of people buying used GM vehicles are subscribing to OnStar.
"And that's without a whole lot of marketing," he added. "It's a new range of customers for us and a new opportunity for dealers to participate."
OnStar now has about 6 million subscribers.
OnStar doesn't release financial figures, but Huber said it's profitable. "Our profitability has been improving year-over-year for awhile," he said.
Huber says offering OnStar to other manufacturers expands the reach of the technology, which will lower the cost "for everybody that participates."