Ford vs GM’s. Heavyweight battle.

Headquartered in Orlando Craig Brown sales job requires you to be on the phone while on the road.

For this you need a communication system in the car as Ford Motor Co. ‘s Sync or General Motors Co.’ s OnStar. Both allow hands-free calling.

During the past two years, Brown, 38, has owned vehicles with every system. Now you will not have otherwise.

“My next car will definitely have one of the two technologies in it,” said Brown.

Ford and GM agree that the systems are gaining importance in purchasing decisions. The question for the two rivals is that the system Brown – and millions of other car buyers – is chosen.

The long-standing rivals clashed in a race to bring telematics to conventional car buyers. Sync and OnStar say are key buying considerations – to the point that technology changes the way retailers sell cars and interact with customers.


Ford and GM are reluctant to admit that there is intense competition, saying that the systems are different and distinctive. OnStar has been known for safety features such as emergency assistance and recovery of stolen vehicles. Sync has typically focused on the mobile phone’s Bluetooth connectivity and also provides information and entertainment services such as horoscopes and stock quotes.

Matching functions

Craig Brown has been so for vehicles with Sync, Ford and GM OnStar, and says his next car, “definitely” will be one of them. Kim Ellis, Jarrett, Scott Ford in Plant City, Florida, is turning into synchronization.

However, every automaker matching other key offerings. For example, Ford has introduced 911 Assist and Vehicle Health Reports to compete with OnStar. And OnStar is the addition of features such as voice-based text messaging cell phone driver.

GM OnStar admits that lost momentum in the automaker’s restructuring and bankruptcy in 2008 until 2009. In 2008, GM seriously considered selling OnStar.

As a result of the restructuring, the development of some entertainment features information derailed, said OnStar President Chris Preuss. That gave Ford a good opportunity to promote synchronization, OnStar put at a disadvantage.

“Who has the most effective marketing this to the customer benefits? Hands down, Ford,” said Preuss. “And they get credit for it. But we are not following. We’re just in a slightly different strategy. ”

Preuss is adamant about OnStar’s core mission: peace of mind.

“OnStar is built from day 15 years ago to be a dedicated emergency security services system in the car,” said Preuss. “Because we have to, we can make other services. We have been making sailing back over six years. We were reading e-mails to people before it was even great to have e-mail.”

OnStar, which has about 6 million subscribers in North America, uses a cell phone embedded in the vehicle. Preuss said the service is very profitable for GM, although the company does not publish financial data from OnStar.

Ford Sync is an infotainment system based on Microsoft software, that pairs with your Bluetooth driver. Sync was initially designed to control music devices and cell phones.

main point of competition OnStar Sync is integrated technology makes it more reliable in an accident, said Doug Newcomb, senior technology editor for Edmunds.com. Whereas, Sync, the system is “as good as your cell phone,” said Newcomb.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally recently told Automotive News that the automaker does not integrate its technology into the vehicle. Ford believes its approach is given more flexibility to add features and services such as technological changes.

“Our focus is to be absolutely one with all the development of consumer electronics worldwide and do not fit into anything in the car,” said Mulally. “We want to manage the experience in the car.”

Ford says Sync Services is intended to improve safety because it allows the synchronization of voice messages for all services, telephone calls and emergency assistance. This limits driver distraction.

Sync-based entertainment

“The functionality of this is based entertainment,” said Paul Russell, director of marketing for synchronization. “But the key is being able to deliver to the customer in a safe manner. This is a comprehensive way the way he looks. It is the communication and entertainment.”

But Ford did add 911 Assist Sync for the 2009 model year to compete with OnStar emergency response. OnStar and knows he has work to do to give all that Sync not entertainment.

“We know we have to be there. GM’s strategy for information and entertainment is totally against that,” said Preuss. “Next year and next year we will have more and more similar timing characteristics.”

Said Edmunds.com ‘s Newcomb: “What we’re seeing now is OnStar is trying to catch up they have announced some new features they would like to implement, such as receiving text messages via voice and respond through speech .. ”

OnStar is also working on an application that allows users to update their Facebook status using speech.

An application is a software program designed to perform a specific task. For example, GM recently came out with OnStar applications to provide remote boot and roadside assistance.

The competing systems are sold differently, too.

OnStar is sold through a subscription that costs $ 199 per year. The price for the hardware is rolled into the sticker price. GM does not break with that information.

Sync costs $ 395, but carries no other initial expenses. After three years, customers keep the music service and mobile phone, but must pay an annual fee of $ 60 to continue the synchronization services like turn-by-turn directions, traffic and personal information, such as sports scores, billboard film, horoscopes and stock quotes.

GM sold nearly OnStar when the company filed for federal bankruptcy protection in 2009. But GM moved so quickly through the bankruptcy sale that never happened. And OnStar has benefited from having two CEOs of GM and telecommunications expert.

When Ed Whitacre, former CEO of AT & T, took the top job in December 2009, decided to retain OnStar, but ordered to be streamlined, said Preuss. OnStar has been doing that and is now starting a new marketing campaign.

Similarly, the current CEO Dan Akerson, who was CEO of Nextel Communications, saw the value of OnStar.

, Preuss said: “One thing Dan Akerson has become very clear to me is that, look, OnStar telematics is an incredibly powerful tool. Secondly, you really have a communication problem.”

In September, OnStar has launched a new slogan: “Live On.” The idea: to show the simplicity of using only one button for services such as navigation, hands-free calls and emergency assistance.

OnStar wants distributors to increase, too, to talk about the telematics service in the sale of a vehicle. He also wants retailers to use OnStar vehicle diagnostic and emails to customers to get customers back on sales of services and the future.

Preuss admitted that only half of GM’s customers buy the subscription service when the trial period. But he insists he is still good, considering OnStar has 6 million subscribers at $ 200 to $ 300 per year.

Big selling point

Ford says consumers are three times more likely to consider a Ford product, once you learn about timing.

“It’s bigger than a more close,” said Jim Farley, chief executive of Ford sales. “Our vehicles Sync faster and faster. In the current approach, which is one reason to buy a Ford. It’s a great thing. I never saw an option of $ 300 to $ 400 have that kind of impact into consideration.”

Ford offers concession vendors with sync services on their mobile phones so they can prove it works for customers.

Dealers say Sync 911 Assist feature generally impresses clients. But Sync has made car sales more difficult for some retailers.

“There are more and more information the seller has to know,” said Jim Scott, co-owner of Jarrett, Scott Ford in Plant City, Fla. “You have to add a couple of steps, too, because before the person go, you have to get your email address to activate syncmyride.com reports for vehicle health.

“So the process has changed. It’s very different to show you how to use the AC and radio.”

Scott is considering changing its pay structure to attract sellers with strong technology experience. “These cars are so computer-based now, is like selling computers,” he said.

Others in the fight

Other car manufacturers and telematics and infotainment Embrace include Mercedes-Benz, BMW Assist, Toyota and Lexus Enform service G-Book Alpha. Kia UVO, his style synchronization system in January.

Hyundai is expected to provide a telematics or infotainment system in the coming year. Fiat will offer its synchronization system based on Blue & Me, in the 500 subcompact here. Volkswagen is at least 24 months before offering something similar, an industry source said.

new GM marketing approach, combined with its established technology is promising, said Paul Haelterman, director general global automotive consultancy IHS Automotive Detroit.

“Look at how GM has been the commercialization of its applications. This is positive, and GM is demonstrating leadership in this space, “said Haelterman.” Toyota’s mojo can be stolen and people in the [Chevrolet] Cruze. Technology can do that. ”

Haelterman said Ford Sync is strong, too. technology has proven to sell small cars to younger buyers.

“Ford just made a minor update in the current approach a few years ago but put it sync and it was a game changer,” said Haelterman. “It is clear that attracted the Gen X and Gen Y’ers.”

In short, he said, “OnStar and Sync are the benchmark for everyone else in that space.”

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