Have You Really Thought This Through Edition: Onstar To Invade China

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Nannification makes a great leap forward: OnStar services will be activated and fully operational in China in December 2009 on some Cadillac, Buick and Chevrolet vehicles, PRNewswire reports. The system will be operated by OnStar Telematics Company Limited, a joint venture between GM and SAIC. According to the blurb, “this is OnStar’s first venture outside of North America in its 11-year history.”

Shanghai GM has plans to make OnStar available on all of its products sold in China, Gasgoo says. OnStar will supervise car and driver of Chinese Cadillacs first, then move to Buick and finally to Chevrolet.

The offer is the same as stateside: First year free, then you pay. The services supplied also mirror those in the US.

When it becomes known that SAIC (and possibly GM USA) can track in real time the whereabouts of its customers, including visits to second wives, saunas, KTVs and other recreational establishments, sales of GM products in security-conscious China should drop a lot.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

More by Bertel Schmitt

Join the conversation
4 of 10 comments
  • Flashpoint Flashpoint on Nov 02, 2009

    They will definitely have their work cut out for them. In China, cars hit bicyclists ALL THE TIME because they outnumber cars almost 100 to 1. The Onstar GM is gonna have a RIDICULOUSLY large call center.

  • Hognose Hognose on Nov 02, 2009

    I didn't buy a Pontiac in 2008 because the dealer wouldn't/couldn't delete OnStar. Year before, it had been a delete option but on the 2009 model I wanted (GXP Coupe), it was now "standard" and mandatory. So I suppose I should be glad that OnStar and GM's big brotherish tendencies saved me from wasting money on an orphan car at a circling-the-drain dealer. The dealer's now-unemployed bums of salespeople wouldn't work with me (for example ordering the car for an overseas DSO and stateside delivery, which deletes OnStar), so I did the sensible thing and kept my checkbook in my pocket. I bought a well-kept used car, from a seller who was glad to take my money, instead. Die, GM, die. Someone asked why privacy-oriented people have a beef with OnStar. It has been used by cops for both warranted and warrantless wiretapping. (Yes, they can put it in theft mode and listen in to you in the car, without OnStar's call centre being any the wiser). I've also been told that GM internal investigations show that call centre people have listened in for entertainment, but I haven't seen that report with my own eyes so it's probably BS. Still, the sooner GM dies, the better for everyone, except GM retirees. While I don't have anything to far from cops, technology available to them is available to anyone who can match their technical sophistication, and that's a hella lot of people. GM's OnStar and Beijing's secret police, now there's a match made in Hades. If you're wondering what Hades is, I got stuck with a new Impala for a 1000-mile drive last month. The rental agency gal apologized. "Everyone hates these but it's all we have left." It could have been worse, I suppose: Hertz has HHRs. Did I mention that GM needs to die? At this point, GM can either put ten years of effort trying to build their design and manufacturing back up to 2000 Hyundai levels (I don't think Lutz, Fritz and Gettelfinger even can build a car to 2009 Hyundai levels, or want to), or it can try to permanently worm itself onto the government dole, in part by offering population-monitoring technology. You know which way they're going to go.

  • Accs Accs on Nov 02, 2009

    Id also like to chime in by saying.. There have been huge issues just with the celluar signals of the equipment. For example.. The first few years of the system it used a analog signal instead of going to digital that wireless is now working with. On top of issues regarding not being able to just upgrade the system per vehicle. NTM I dont even think they have made a PROFIT on it yet. Despite it being on every vehicle GM sells.. their biggest problem is people wont buy it after the free sub wears out. And this isnt a NANNY?! How isnt it? It is WIRED to your vehicle. It can turn on or off for any reason deemed necessary. It can listen to whatever you have to say and use it against you. HELLO 1984 MUCH?! Point is.. I frankly don't believe the system has any use ans is only deemed necessary by those who want to make a cheap buck out of trying to sell you / consumers safety and protection from the big bad world.

  • Lgroad50 Lgroad50 on Nov 03, 2009

    I find it amazing that people still believe that OnStar advisors are clamoring to listen in on their conversations. These people have better things to do with their time! Image if they recorded the conversations of all 4 million customers every day! That's a lot of recording time - talk about a huge archive. And to think that they then sift through all of those recordings and somehow use it against you. Wow! Plus, OnStar cannot listen in on your conversations in the car without you being aware of it. It's not technically possible. Just to correct a misconception - NO THEY CANNOT put your vehicle into "theft" mode and listen in to your car. This is not possible at all! There isn't a "Theft Mode". The police can't access the OnStar system without OnStar and OnStar advisor's don't "track" your vehicle unless it's been reported stolen and there is a police report on file.