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OnStar Dumping Analog Subscribers

GM is going to cut off 10% — roughly 500,000 — of its OnStar users because the system is upgrading to digital equipment as of Jan. 1, 2008. OnStar is the concierge service provided in GM vehicles, made famous by the company’s ad campaign featuring folks getting locked out of their cars or calling for help after an accident.

Owners of pre-2003 cars will get an offer from OnStar for a free year of service, but they’ll have to buy a new GM car to get it. Seriously. More likely they’ll buy an upgrade kit installed at dealerships for $15. GM just hopes they don’t give up on OnStar entirely because of the switch.

Other vehicles impacted include Lexus models with LexusLink, but those numbers are small in comparison to GM’s.

Mercedes-Benz offers a similar service and will also be switching to digital, cutting off nearly 200,000 of its 420,000 subscribers to Tele Aid. Owners of 2001 - 04 models will have to get an upgrade as well, but the cost for the new equipment ranges from $600 to $1,500. We’re guessing even Mercedes owners will balk at that fee, even with the $100 - $200 rebate the car company is providing.

[Losing the Link, AutoWeek]