Pollhattan Saab – OnStar/Bluetooth

There’s been a little bloodletting in comments about the revelation that OnStar will be standard in the 2008 Saab 9-3.

So what’s the problem? Well, if you have OnStar, apparently you can’t get Bluetooth. I’m unsure as to whether it’s a technical thing or a contractual thing, but there’s plenty of people willing to make some noise about it.

Are they the vocal minority or the genuine voice of the people?

Saab may just be watching, so have your say in the poll………….and elaborate in comments if you feel so inclined.


My 0.02c

If this is as unpopular as I think it is, then it just makes no sense to deny your customers the choice. Offer an incentive to take up OnStar if you like, but at least offer the choice. I don’t use Bluetooth myself, but if I did I’d want the option without having to do an aftermarket fitment.

Note: There is a Bluetooth solution for the US market available from Saab. It’s a de-badged Motorola unit and your local dealer should know about it.

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  1. Bluetooth is OK, but if they want to be in the front wireless USB is the way to go. It will be huge in about 1-2 years time.

  2. This was the deciding factor on why I did not buy the 9-3 Aero I have been wanting for so long. Sure I could have put in an aftermarket kit, but the point is I shouldn’t have to. There is only so much I could overlook and do without. I ended up purchasing a $40k Lexus IS 250 instead. Sure I would still love to be driving around in a Saab, but I am enjoying my bluetooth, backup camera/navigation system, and a ton more features that the 9-3 doesn’t offer.
    When Saab USA starts acting like a competitor it will be treated like one. Not having Bluetooth isn’t quirky it’s just stupid.

  3. bluetooth is just a wireless standard (protocol), like wifi. in terms of either current or evolving hardware being able to integrate with (or “talk” to) saabs, it makes sense to have bluetooth “bundled” into the factory build. leave room for growth–design for future capacity.

  4. here here!

    My dealer couldn’t believe that I wouldn’t even consider buying a Saab until there was a bluetooth option.

    Now-a-days it’s more requested than Nav. I’m still shocked it’s not integrated.

  5. The new Nissan Sentra has Bluetooth as standard here in the States. They go for around $15,000 USD. Need I say more…

  6. While dabating this, why not listen to the complete song “Release me” with Oh Laura.
    A record will be ‘released’ very soon


    Oh, by the way, I’m all for bluetooth.
    Heck, we could update our engine software just by pasing a local dealer….The display will tell you: “SAAB Aero 3.4 just been installed”. Hopefully we will not need to reboot the darn thing though

  7. Just wait until more states jump on board for no hand-held cell phone use while driving (which they should – American drivers are bad enough without trying to do two things at once). Then bluetooth will be even more in demand than it is now.

  8. I’m one of the two people that said OnStar. I don’t care about Bluetooth. At all. What kind of gadget integration do you need in your car? MP3 player? Use the audio port. Phone? Talking while you’re driving, whether you’re holding the phone or not, is dangerous. I can’t think of anything else. I also think “both” is a cop out answer. Frankly, if the deciding factors for you are which car can I hook my phone into and does it do random stuff for me so I forget how to drive, you don’t deserve to own a car anyway. Go attach wheels and a Mac Mini to your Barcalounger.

    I’m mostly kidding about that last bit. Mostly. Personally, I’m all about performance, so all that extra shit to me is just extra money wasted that I could be spending on a better engine or better suspension or bigger brakes. Just gimme A/C and anti-lock brakes and I’m golden.

  9. I’m also in the “no need for bluetooth” set. It’s dangerous enough driving and avoiding animals running across the highway, road debris, and other drivers who are swerving or runnning red lights while talking on their cell phones…

    Also, doesn’t OnStar automatically call for help if your airbags go off – in that case there’s a pretty good chance you either a) couldn’t find your cell phone after the crash or b) are unconcious and could not talk on your cell phone anyway. To me, that seems like a pretty safe feature. For what it’s worth, though, I do not have OnStar in my car.

    I get the impression that alot of people want all of these tech gadgets available in their cars just b/c Lexus, BMW and Infiniti have them. I’d rather have the $s spent on performance, safety or interior quality features.

    Just my opinion, of course…

  10. Can I point out the very interesting comment from Michael. I keep reading about how we don’t need XY or Z on a car. SAAB is in the business of selling cars. Period. If adaptive cruise, voice control or heaven help us, self parking sell cars then SAAB need to make them options. Michael was a customer who has been lost because SAAB has made a basic business error – not giving the customers what they want. Would anyone boycott SAAB if self parking was an option? However there will be plenty of potential customers in the future (not anyone reading this blog of course, we are all excellent drivers here : ) ) who will buy a car because it has this option.

    There are people who like gadgets. There are people who like image. While we laugh at them another sale slips away. Giving customers choice is never a bad thing. I hate and I mean hate, wood trim. It isn’t classy, looks fake even if it actually is real and just shows a lack of thought on the part of the designer. BUT if you do like wood trim and a lot of you do, my opinion does not and should not matter one bit. It’s your car, your choice and you should have the option to have it and enjoy it.

    Thankfully Bluetooth vs Onstar is not an issue in Europe but I had the dealer fit a Nokia kit – much, much cheaper than the factory system. Runs through and mutes the radio speakers as well. Pauses CDs too.

  11. I had on-star in my previous 2002 Saab 9-5 it was a standard feature and it came with 1 year free service. I never ever used it. Enough said. Focus on driving NOT talking.

  12. I very much suspect this is a business decision rather than a technical one.

    General Motors owns both SAAB and OnStar. I’m sure the GM brass has forced SAAB to install OnStar as standard in cars in the U.S. and to make them incompatible with Bluetooth to encourage OnStar subscriptions (which are VERY overpriced).

    If you have Bluetooth that’s one less reason to have OnStar. I remember that the debadged Motorola Bluetooth unit (at additional cost) the dealer can install for you won’t work on ’07 model 9-3’s if you have the factory navigation system installed. Somehow they’ve integrated OnStar as a requirement for the NAV system. This is just stupid. Why would anyone buy the overpriced NAV system that requires OnStar?

    To answer the question “what is OnStar?” someone asked in comments above: OnStar is a telematics system installed in all GM cars and trucks sold in the U.S. which has a number of functions. The main selling point is if you have an emergency or automatically if your airbags are deployed an OnStar operator will communicate with you via your car’s speakers and ask if you need assistance. They will send-out an ambulance to your location (OnStar has a GPS) if you request it or if you don’t communicate with them. OnStar can also function as an integrated telephone (speakerphone) if you buy that subscription option. It offers voice dialing. Also, if you lock your keys in your car you can phone OnStar and they can remotely unlock the car’s doors for you. There’s an optional concierge service and also an optional live operator voice directions service. You can push the OnStar button and say, “where’s a good Italian restaurant in this town?” and the operator will actually give you voice directions (looking at your GPS location) to it. Kind of cool, but WAY OVERPRICED. Subscriptions other than the basic emergency service are unreasonable.

    GM, stop playing games. SAAB can’t compete as all their other competitors have Bluetooth (most of them standard rather than as an additional-cost option) while SAAB is handicapped having to push GM’s OnStar.

  13. Jeff: do you subscribe to OnStar? If not, have you priced it? When we bought my wife’s ’01 9-3 CPO we were given the option of subscribing to OnStar. The prices were outrageous. I’m sure it’s a really good system and it’s integrated, but what most people would use it for is the hands-free phone functionality and that subscription was REALLY expensive. Anyone know where one can see the subscription rates online?

  14. Sorry I forgot to mention in my posts above:

    An additional OnStar functionality is that if your car is stolen and you have an OnStar subscription they can track it for police to recover it (via the GPS transmitter). But you HAVE to be a subscriber. I know of a fellow Californian who posts a lot at SAAB Central had his 9-5 with OnStar stolen. He was not a subscriber and thought the car was equipped with it OnStar told him they couldn’t help him.

    Also, the reason why GM wouldn’t want Bluetooth and OnStar to coexist is because they would sell fewer phone subscriptions. Why would anyone pay OnStar for yet ANOTHER phone subscription (one tied solely to the car) when they already pay for their own mobile phone subscription. If they could use their mobile phone in the car with Bluetooth that’s one less reason to subscribe to OnStar.

  15. It is possible to have both and to give people the option to do either or both would make more sense. I have a 2002 9-3 with OnStar and with an add-on device I was able to connect a Nokia bluetooth kit to integrate with the stereo. I agree that we may have a need or desire for something but SAAb still needs to sell more cars.

  16. Gripen: Of course not, my car is over a decade old, and I have no money. You get it free for a year, though, usually. Also, if this deters people from talking while they’re driving, it’s a good thing whether it sells cars or not.

  17. I agree that talking on the phone and driving do not mix, hands-free or not. It’s just too hard to pay attention to the road. However, I would like a Bluetooth option because I’d like to be able to receive calls while in the car. It then becomes my choice to tell them I’ll call back, or to pull over and talk (if it is important). I also want OnStar because of the safety and anti-theft features. I have a 2001 SAAB, and my partner has a 2003 model, and we’re both upset that our OnStar service is going away in 2008. SAAB sold us both analog-only hardware, and now the analog network is going away.

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