OnStar Expands Beyond GM To Any Car For $299

Starting this spring, OnStar will begin selling — for $299 — "Anywhere," a standalone rearview mirror compatible with most top-selling vehicles that allows access to much of OnStar's services. Yup, it's OnStar-to-go. This may be the coolest safety-and-security gadget ever.

Basically, OnStar Anywhere the as-yet-unnamed "OnStar retail product" is a rearview mirror — approximately the same size as your current one — that will replace your manufacturer-provided mirror. It will be available in the U.S. in spring 2011 for $299. Although that'll be closer to $400 once you factor in the cost of installation expected to run somewhere between $75 and $100 from Best Buy and other selected consumer electronics retailers.

Like OnStar now, there's a range of service plans available starting at $18.95 a month or $199 a year.

Also, like OnStar, the services that this new mirror will provide include:

Automatic Crash Response: There's an accelerometer built into the mirror that detects the sudden shock of an impact from the front, side or rear of the vehicle — and automatically calls an OnStar advisor.

Emergency Services: Pressing OnStar's red emergency button links customers to a specially trained emergency advisor for assistance in situations occurring inside or outside of their vehicle.

Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance: OnStar will tell law enforcement where it is if you report it as being stolen.

Turn-by-Turn Navigation: Downloadable spoken turn-by-turn directions for reaching customers destinations.

Roadside Assistance: In non-emergency situations, drivers can push the blue button to help with problems like a flat tire or running out of gas.

Hands-Free Calling: Hands-free, voice-activated calls through a Bluetooth connection to the driver's mobile phone or through prepaid packages of minutes purchased through OnStar.

Basically, it'll do all of the things I want my mom's car to do, except now she doesn't need a GM vehicle to do it!*

This isn't the first foray for OnStar into the world of non-GM vehicles. For a short time, OnStar service was available on vehicles produced by Acura, Audi, Isuzu, Subaru and Volkswagen through a licensing agreement. But this goes beyond that — and takes OnStar somewhere its never been — a consumer electronic device.

Yup, GM's now using OnStar to make devices and providing services that could potentially compete with Microsoft, Apple and the rest — and it's leveraging OnStar's unparalleled brand equity in the world of safety and security to do it.

Frankly, I love this idea.

Here's some more detail on what cars it works on:

As of now, the OnStar mirror is certified to work on 99% of the 20 best-selling non-GM vehicles over the last ten years. That's approximately 55 million cars and light trucks.

OnStar expects to certify additional models in the months ahead.

The top 20 vehicles that are already certified:

Ford/Lincoln F-Series/Mark LT
Toyota Camry
Honda Accord
Dodge/Chrysler/VW Caravan/T&C/Voyager/Routan
Dodge Ram Pickup
Honda Civic
Ford/Mercury/Lincoln Explorer/Mountaineer/Aviator
Ford/Mercury Taurus/500/Sable/Montego
Toyota Corolla
Nissan Altima
Ford Focus
Ford/Mercury/Mazda Escape/Mariner/Tribute
Chrysler//Dodge Sebring/Stratus/Avenger
Ford/Mazda Ranger/Mazda Pickup
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Honda CR-V
Toyota Tacoma
Ford/Lincoln Expedition/Navigator
Honda Odyssey
Ford/Mercury Crown Vic/Grand Marquis

(*Note: My Mom really likes her new Cadillac SRX. Just sayin'...)