General Motors is tacking on a bit of a sneaky option on some of its new luxury vehicles. The automaker is adding an additional $1,500 charge to cover a new OnStar connectivity package, according to The Detroit Free Press. The report says the package is listed under “options” on the window sticker, but it cannot be removed, even if a customer has no interest in it.
Since the beginning of June, all new Buicks and GMCs sold in the U.S. have included three years of OnStar coverage and a Connected Services Premium Plan. Here’s the rub – it’s standard. GM spokeswoman Kelly Cusinato told the Free Press that customers will be charged the $1,500 price whether or not OnStar and Connected Vehicle Services are activated.
As of July 18, new Cadillac Escalades in the U.S. will come with the same plan. On top of that, Chevrolet is currently finalizing its OnStar plans, remote access and connectivity options through the MyChevy app. The Free Press reports that GM will offer more details on the packages soon.
The move seems to be part of a GM plan to boost revenue through post-purchase subscription features. The Free Press reports that earlier this year, GM said it would have more subscription offerings coming in the next few years. The automaker anticipates that customers would be willing to spend as much as $135 a month on various subscriptions – on top of a monthly lease or finance payment.
A GM spokesperson told the Free Press that adding OnStar and Connected Services from the get-go will enhance a customer’s ownership experience.
“Providing this connectivity standard is more convenient for our customers and provides a more seamless onboarding experience,” GM spokesman Patrick Sullivan said in an email to the Free Press. “The package has been offered as optional in the past, but going forward, it is standard on all Buick and GMCs.”
He added, the “option is included in the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price.”
With the plan, a consumer gets access to a remote key fob, unlimited data, vehicle diagnostics, Wi-Fi hotspots and access to the OnStar Guardian app for roadside assistance or emergencies and more.
After the initial three years is up, customers can subscribe to the same plan or a different one, but GM is staying mum on what that later subscription would cost.
[W]hen asked to explain GM’s decision to label the new package as an “option” when it is actually standard, Cusinato said in an email to the Free Press, “it is an option, but it is not removable as it is delivered from the factory with it included just like an upgraded powertrain, or upgraded interior materials, or upgraded infotainment system.”
She also said because this OnStar and Connected Services Premium Plan was only recently structured and offered and it applies to only certain brands and vehicles in the U.S., “it is possible that not all materials (websites, brochures, et cetera) may be fully updated just yet.”
It’s a brave new world out there, folks. Don’t expect this to be the end of the in-vehicle subscription story. More are likely coming, and dealers and customers will continue to be annoyed by them.