General Motors is considering making parts of its premium OnStar in-car communications systems free, according to reports September 8.

Sources familiar with the plan told Bloomberg that OnStar could offer some free services to compete with the free SYNC in-car entertainment system offered by General Motors' rival Ford.

OnStar, which offers in-car navigation, communication, security and safety services in the US and Canada, currently requires a subscription starting from $18.95 (€15) per month or $199 (€157) a year.

The plan is normally free for a year with new General Motors vehicles, after which a fee is payable, in contrast to the free MyFord Touch/SYNC system offered by Ford.

Both systems offer voice control, Google mapping functions and integration with Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones, as well as other services such as emergency assist, which can send the position of the vehicle to emergency services or call a response centre automatically.

General Motors is also reportedly considering introducing "apps" to OnStar to compete with Ford's SYNC, which already integrates with software such as Pandora, Stitcher and OpenBeak (formerly TwitterBerry).

The OnStar system is also available in China, where General Motors says it is the most popular in-car communication system - it expects to have 200,000 Chinese users by the end of the year.

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