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Thread: Straight talk for GM about OnStar and DRLs

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Straight talk for GM about OnStar and DRLs

    Here's a little nugget of information that's kind of interesting - as well as revealing:

    Honda doesn't force buyers of its cars to buy OnStar (which it licenses from General Motors). But of course, GM does. Every new GM vehicle comes equipped with the GPS-based communication, tracking and recording devices - like it or not.

    But of course, not everyone likes it. Nor wants to be communicated with via OnStar - let alone tracked and recorded.

    The non-negotiable presence of OnStar in GM cars is thus a very good reason for many people not to buy a GM vehicle.

    GM apparently doesn't care about such customers - and apparently believed (and still believes) it can afford to lose their business. Same story with Daytime Running Lamps (DRLs). GM pushed these always-on headlights vigorously, claiming they were a "safety" benefit. But in fact the real benefit was that GM could save itself a little money per car by installing DRLs on all the cars it built. Reason? Canada had a law requiring DRLs - based in part on the fact that portions of Canada aren't as well-lit as, say, most of the continental United States. Regardless, Canada had a law - and GM sells a lot of cars in Canada. So, rather than build cars with DRLs for Canada and without DRLs for the United States, GM decided to sell all its cars with DRLs. Once again, like it or not.

    And once again, many buyers in fact didn't like it - and decided to shop elsewhere for a new car.

    I count myself among this number.

    Although GM has recently trotted out several cars that are otherwise very appealing, I don't want a car that is factory equipped with a device capable of recording not just my driving ways but even my conversation in the car (Not that OnStar actually does that as a matter of routine - but the point is, it could do it and without your even knowing it's being done).

    Let me tell you a brief story about an OnStar. A couple of years back, I was driving a new Cadillac press car for a weeklong media evaluation. I was running the car hard on a local road with a series of challenging S turns. Suddenly, a booming female voice pervaded the car's interior. This is OnStar! Emergency Assistance is on the way! The car had sent a message, via GPS, to the OnStar center (god knows where) that it suspected I had crashed based on the inputs it was receiving about my high-performance driving maneuvers. I actually had to spend a couple of minutes convincing the OnStar Fuhrer that I had not wrecked, that the car was in fact completely unscathed.

    Some may find the omnipresence of a helpful OnStar operator reassuring. I think it's creepy. I don't want Big Brother (or his private corporate little brother) riding shotgun with me. I bet there are thousands of others who share my view - and have stayed away from GM cars for just this reason.

    Keep in mind, moreover, that adding OnStar to each new car adds another layer of expense to each new car GM sells. The company likes to complain about the competitive handicap of paying for employee health care and pensions, which adds to the bottom line cost of each new car it builds. Fine.

    Well, what about extraneous equipment like Onstar?

    How many sales has mandatory OnStar cost GM, either as a result of the added annoyance or the added expense?

    Reportedly, Ford did a survey of its customers, asking them whether they'd want a system such as OnStar installed in their next new Ford as standard equipment. A great many said no. Ford listened. So did Honda - which has quietly put OnStar on a distant backburner. It is still available for those who want it - and who are willing to pay extra to have it.

    But not many do, apparently.

    Ford also does not put DRLs in its U.S. models - again, because a large number of prospective customers made it plain they do not want to drive around in broad daylight with their headlights on as if they were emergency vehicles or part of a funeral cortege.

    Not GM.

    The company eventually - and reluctantly - installed or made available turn-off switches. But the DRLs are still there and have to be dealt with every time you drive the car.

    And that is a real turnoff.

    Not just the OnStar and DRLs - but the imperious attitude of GM management. It has lost sight of the most essential thing about the car business and that is that cars are about freedom and enjoying yourself as an individual. The suffocating obsession with "safety" represented by OnStar and DRLs is turning cars - GM cars especially - into baby cribs with wheels. At a certain point, it's just not worth the hassle anymore. Buyers move on.

    Apparently, a great many have done just that when it comes to GM cars.

  2. #2
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    OnStar is redundant since most people have a cell phone. The real cost is paying for the OnStar service, year after year. The number of people who crash, and can't dial 911 on their cell phone, must be miniscule!

    Help, I've fallen and I can't get up

  3. #3
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    Honda has gone DRL-happy with the 2009 models.

    If I buy a replacement for the CR-V later this year, I'll need to figure a way to disable them. Not only are they useless burners of lamp filaments, they actually make the road less safe for motorcycle riders.

    Chip H.

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    The OnStar on my Vibe is running out of gas as of 30 Apr. GM has been inundating me with dire warnings about what will happen with no subscription. But, I think I can find a much better use for the $200+ a year than renewing the subscription.

    As far as GM DRLs, GM made then an option in the 95 and 96 model years. No one screamed, so then they became standard.
    Dennis - Tucson

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    The company eventually - and reluctantly - installed or made available turn-off switches. But the DRLs are still there and have to be dealt with every time you drive the car.

    And that is a real turnoff.

    Not just the OnStar and DRLs - but the imperious attitude of GM management. It has lost sight of the most essential thing about the car business and that is that cars are about freedom and enjoying yourself as an individual. The suffocating obsession with "safety" represented by OnStar and DRLs is turning cars - GM cars especially - into baby cribs with wheels. At a certain point, it's just not worth the hassle anymore. Buyers move on.

    Apparently, a great many have done just that when it comes to GM cars.
    I think you are being a little overly sensitive here. Many European Cars - Audi, BMW, MB, Volvo, Sabb, etc have DRL's.

    I agree they're dumb idea - sorta like saying: Let's paint all cars bright yellow, because you will see them better. However when all cars are the same color - you won't see them any better.

    What I really don't miss is having to turn on the headlamps!

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