CES: GM announces OnStar for rival brands; makes in-vehicle platform play

At CES 2011, GM got aggressive by announcing that its OnStar in-vehicle communications platform will be available to vehicles made by rival manufacturers.

CES 2011

LAS VEGAS -- The blue button is coming to a dashboard near you.

General Motors on Tuesday night announced that it would make its OnStar communications service available to vehicles made by rival manufacturers, drawing a line in the sand here at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show.

[CES photo gallery: OnStar press conference]

The automaker said it would do so by offering a retail, boxed version of an OnStar-equipped rearview mirror, giving nearly any vehicle -- from a Ford to a Toyota -- features such as automatic crash response, turn-by-turn navigation, stolen vehicle location assistance, emergency and roadside services and hands-free calling.

GM acknowledged the move as a "bold" one for the company, one that plans to leverage the company's considerable presence in the growing in-vehicle communications space and one that will no doubt irritate rivals like Ford, Lincoln, Kia, Toyota, Lexus and Audi, which all have similar platforms deployed or in the works.

The mirror will be available in the U.S. in spring 2011 for $299. To move quickly, GM inked a deal with Best Buy to leverage its 1,100 stores and existing competency in the installation of car tech. (Installing OnStar is expected to run about $100.)

Service plans for non-GM vehicles will start at $18.95 per month, or $199 per year.

GM says the new OnStar mirror is certified to work on 99 percent of the top 20 selling non-GM vehicles made during the last 10 years -- approximately 55 million cars and trucks.

This post originally appeared on SmartPlanet's Smart Takes blog.