Wednesday, March 11, 2009

OnStar advertising: suspect.

OnStar's latest advertising campaign seems a little suspect to me. They claim that in the last year alone they have responded to 100 million calls for help. That doesn't add up and here's why. GM Produce an average of 2.2m vehicles a year equipped with OnStar. They've been doing so since 1996. To date that means about 26.4m vehicles. The subscription is free for the first year, then it costs, so assume that 50% of those vehicles don't have active subscriptions. Being GM products, the chances of all those vehicles still being on the road with functioning OnStar units is slim, but we'll be kind and say 70% are still on the road. That gives us a napkin calculation of about 9.25m OnStar equipped cars on the road, with live subscriptions. So for OnStar's advertising to be true, that implies every GM OnStar owner crashed their car over 10 times last year.....

That's clearly wrong, so we have to assume that their 'calls for help' include people calling for directions and their other services. But the ads always feature someone trapped in a wreck crying for help which is totally misleading because they imply that all 100 million people were in a situation that made OnStar critical for them. By GM's own figures they only respond to about 700 air bag deployments a month - or 8,400 a year.

8,400 is not 100 million.


Anonymous said...

Its not in the last year, its in total.

Chris said...

Ok so OnStar has been going since 1996. Figure 8,400 x 12 years which is 100,800. That's optimistic - assuming their 700 / month figure is good for every month since it's inception.

That's still three orders of magnitude away from 100 million.

Joely08 said...


maybe false sense of security had led to the 10 crashes per person? Who needs to drive safe when they have OnStar?