General Motors is seeking to expand its OnStar service into six new markets, including Brazil and Europe, to attract buyers seeking technology and safety features.
The provider of accident alerts, directions and vehicle diagnostics, also wants to add subscribers in Mexico, South Korea, the Middle East and Australia to build on its rapid growth in China, said Chris Preuss, OnStar’s president. OnStar has about 5.7 million subscribers in the U.S., Canada and China.
OnStar is in talks to add applications including the video- calling software Skype, and social networks Twitter and Foursquare, Preuss said.
He added that OnStar may offer some entertainment and information services, including those that link to a user’s smartphone, without a subscription or fee because that technology will eventually become standard throughout the industry.
GM is counting on expansion overseas to bolster profit as it prepares for an initial public offering to reduce the government stakes held by the U.S. and Canada. GM’s first-half sales in China overtook deliveries in the U.S. for the first time.
OnStar enrolled its first customer in China in December and surpassed 70,000 subscribers last month, OnStar China President Jonathan Hyde said in a telephone interview. GM expects to reach 200,000 Cadillac and Buick subscribers in the country by the end of the year and eventually will add Chevrolet, he said.
Subscribers in China push OnStar’s blue button 10 times more frequently than users in the U.S., Preuss said.