TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- OnStar plans to expand its vehicle communications service in global markets after 15 years of shaping it in North America.
The General Motors subsidiary intends to expand its presence in China, which it entered in 2009, and enter markets in the Middle East and Latin America. Other world markets are being studied, said Linda Marshall, OnStar president, at the Management Briefing Seminars here.
But doing so will require overcoming some cultural challenges, she acknowledges.
In China, for instance, the typical operator that OnStar is hiring for the call centers that support drivers does not own a vehicle. Marshall says the company begins the employment process there by putting new staffers into a car and demonstrating the service.
Language is another issue. Some world markets have populations that speak different languages from region to region. By contrast, most of OnStar's North American customers have spoken English. OnStar has about 6 million subscribers.
Separately, OnStar is rolling out a version of its service at national consumer electronics stores for less than $300. The system, called For My Vehicle, can be installed in most vehicles. Until now, OnStar has been limited to GM models, mainly as a factory-installed system.
To support the retail effort, OnStar has launched an interactive and mobile marketing campaign. Consumers can get information about OnStar's FMV service on Facebook feeds, Twitter posts or YouTube videos. The sites contain product reviews, information, customer testimonials and videos about the product. Consumer conversations about the FMV service are delivered to Apple and Android mobile devices.
The campaign marks the first time OnStar has used mobile online media in its marketing.
Julie Halpert contributed to this report