Some better news on Bluetooth

I spent around an hour or so on the phone this morning with Jan-Willem Vester, Saab USA’s PR guru. I’ve been in communication with Jan-Willem for a couple of years now and it’s largely due to his benevolence that we’ve managed to get some participation in recent Saab events, like the 60th Anniversary event in February and the recent 2008 Saab 9-3 launch.

We had a great chat about a number of things, but there was only one issue from the phone call that was ‘on the record’. That issue was Bluetooth.

I raised with him the near-unanimous dissatisfaction that’s been expressed here in comments with regard to the lack of factory integrated Bluetooth availability for the US market. More importantly, the fact that people have identified this issue as a real dealbreaker when they consider their next vehicle purchase.

At the end of the conversation, Jan-Willem promised to look into things a little more with Saab USA’s product managers. An hour or so later I had this in my inbox:

Followed up with my Saab product colleagues regarding our conversation on Bluetooth. There’s light at the end of the tunnel: just like currently the case with the all-new Cadillac CTS, the Saab 9-3 will be getting the newest version of OnStar with integrated Bluetooth phone capabilities. No firm date yet, but it is coming. We will let you know as soon as we have more details.

I’m sure you’ll agree that this is great news.

Of course, I’ll keep you all informed the moment I know any more about this.

——

For those of you that haven’t seen them, the two most recent posts on Bluetooth, with lots of ensuing discussion are at the following links:

Playing devil’s advocate on Bluetooth and Saab in the USA (Sept 2)

Saab and Bluetooth – cause and effect (Sept 4)

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9 Comments

  1. Swade, exciting news indeed!

    Perhaps, at your convenience, you could ask if people who buy MY08 9-3s with the current OnStar will have the possibility to upgrade to Bluetooth-enabled OnStar once it is available?

  2. Wow Swade! Although I’ve missed much of the Bluetooth hullabaloo, that’s great news. Additionally, it must be a little exciting for you to know that your inquiries are taken seriously. I’m sure plenty of people might just write you off as that quack from down under (Not that it would be an entirely inaccurate conclusion ;o))

    Anyway, just a big “Thanks!” for all you do with the site here. I am one of those who visits nearly every day.

    Now, to drive an hour or more to the nearest Saab dealer and drive one of those new beautiful cars is on my list… sometime. The 9000 Aero might like the exercise!

    Take care now,

    ~P

  3. “New” Onstar means that bluetooth capability will require a $20/mo. subscription, mark my words!!!!

    Damn you Onstar!

    On a lighter note, thank you Swade for looking into this for us 🙂

  4. Yeah, totally….the “new” Onstar that appears in 2010 and the current digital one will not work.

    Regardless, thanks for going to bat for us, Swade. You really do have a pulse on your readers – and we do appreciate it.

    Without giving too much away, we’d love to know how this affects 2008 buyers. How does this piece of news help us? Will Saab upgrade them?

  5. I would not count on Saab offering upgrades from an older version of OnStar to a new one with Bluetooth. Maybe a paid upgrade, but not a free one.

    If it’s that important to you then my advice would be to wait until we hear more about it. But I wouldn’t buy an 08 now expecting an OnStar upgrade a year or two down the track.

  6. Hi, guys!!

    First of all, I`d like to apologize because my english is not as good as it should be, and I wish.

    I`ve bought recently a Saab 9-3 Sporthatch or Sportcombi MY 2007; in my decission was pretty important all the information I reach through your page, and I`d like to thank you about that.

    In the other hand, all the american saab drivers should know that the bluetooth installed in European market is not quite good. Actually, I must critice the bluettoh system installed, as far as it is not compatible with a lot of mobiles not so new, perhapssmartphones, PDA, …, The reason of this lack of compatibility it’s the old bluetooth version used by Saab -1.1 version-, instead of a 1.2.

    A quite numerous users in Spain are not satisfyed with this extra equipment.

    It should be a good idea that all the saab drivers ask the brand to renew the bluetooth version and find a way that a user can handle his most used mobile tasks as he can do with the mobile. I’ve personally contact with Saab Spain to make them know the question.

    Thanks.

  7. Excellent news! My brother in law will finally quit bashing me/my Saab for not having it (His Acura TL has bluetooth integration). Just read BMW will now integrate the Apple iphone into its European lines (including Mini). I believe Audi is also doing something similar. Cutting edge gadgetry just adds to their perception as cutting edge car companies. They’ve moved on to the iphone and we’re still trying to get bluetooth… bummer.

  8. I sent the following letter by email to Mr. Vester about a week ago. So far, I haven’t received an answer.

    Dear Jan-Willem,

    I recently purchased my eighth new Saab since 1982, a 2008 9-3 Kombi from Parkfield Saab in New Jersey. I was ready, horror of horrors, to consider purchasing a competing brand solely due to the fact that Bluetooth wasn’t available. When the dealer informed me that Saab had an accessory Bluetooth kit available, I happily decided to proceed with a new Saab. It was delivered on November 9th (and it’s a wonderful car despite the fact that it was in the shop for a week to replace both front axles due to vibration).

    Prior to delivery, I asked the dealer to install the accessory Bluetooth kit and was shocked when I got a call from them the day prior to delivery informing me that the kit was incompatible with the factory installed OnStar. I said “in that case, disconnect OnStar.” They told me that OnStar was too integrated with things such as the airbags to be disconnected and that there was no way they could install the kit. I was very disappointed but went ahead with the purchase anyway.

    Today, I saw the following quote of yours on trollhattansaab.net from September 6th:

    “Followed up with my Saab product colleagues regarding our conversation on Bluetooth. There’s light at the end of the tunnel: just like currently the case with the all-new Cadillac CTS, the Saab 9-3 will be getting the newest version of OnStar with integrated Bluetooth phone capabilities. No firm date yet, but it is coming. We will let you know as soon as we have more details.”

    Your quote says that “just like currently the case with the all-new Cadillac CTS, the Saab 9-3 will be getting the newest version of OnStar with integrated Bluetooth phone capabilities.” Obviously, that’s not the case with my NEW 9-3. So my questions are: why not? Does Saab plan to retrofit 2008 9-3s to have Bluetooth capabilities? And, if so, when? And if not, is there some way to install the accessory kit?

    As you can imagine, many of us want to be able to use our own wireless providers and do not want to use either OnStar (for anything other than emergencies) or Verizon. I think you do a great disservice not only to your faithful clients that have owned and recommended Saabs over the years, but also to your dealers, Saab, and General Motors. Not only that, you have created a safety issue for those of us who will continue to use there present phones. I trust that Saab will quickly find a way to alleviate this situation.

    Regards,

    Hugh

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