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Chrysler goes for own OnStar

Hughes Telematics is developing an in-vehicle package similar to GM's emergency aid system.

Josee Valcourt / The Detroit News
http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070106/AUTO01/701060336/1148

By the end of the decade, Chrysler Group will offer its own version of the OnStar technology available on crosstown competitor General Motors Corp.'s cars and trucks.

Atlanta-based Hughes Telematics Inc. is creating the system for Chrysler. It will be loaded with functions similar to OnStar, such as crash notification, remote door unlock, emergency assistant calling, roadside assistance, stolen vehicle tracking and maintenance notification.

The Auburn Hills automaker isn't providing a specific date for when the system should hit the market, which vehicles will carry the technology or how much it could cost.

"It should arrive by the end of the decade or sooner," Chrysler spokesman Todd Goyer said. The technology will be "relative and modern."
The unit's capabilities also will make it possible for Chrysler and dealers to notify consumers about vehicle recalls, for example, through subscription-based features.

"Services that would be supported here are wide ranging," said Erik Goldman, president of Hughes Telematics. "A dealer may want to send a message to a consumer who bought a vehicle from his dealership and we can support that."
In addition, Hughes Telematics can remotely upgrade the system's software when needed.

Gordon Farhat, a general sales manager at Westborn Chrysler Jeep in Dearborn, said some buyers come into the dealership looking to purchase a vehicle equipped with the system.
"A lot of people who get the navigation system mistake it for having OnStar capability," he said.

The technology should move Chrysler sales, Farhat said. "You hear those commercials and you can't help but be impressed."
Goldman said that because Hughes Telematics develops and builds its own technology systems, it could cost automakers less than $100 per unit.
There also will be a monthly fee for the service. GM's OnStar offers a package costing $16.95 a month that features such services as accident assistance and remote door unlock; a package for $34.95 provides information on restaurants, hotels and shopping malls.
The system operates via satellite and cell phone networks, making it possible for the caller to connect to an operator at all times.

GM was the pioneer in vehicle telematics, introducing the OnStar system a decade ago, in 1996. OnStar now has more than 3 million subscribers.
The system will be standard on most GM vehicles this year.
Goldman predicts it will be common in the future for cars to be equipped with some type of telematic system.

Hughes is in discussion with other auto manufacturers to widen its pool of potential customers.
"We fully expect that we will have more than 10 million vehicles on our system in the next decade," Goldman said.
You can reach Josee Valcourt at (313) 222-2300 or [email protected].

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070106/AUTO01/701060336/1148
 
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