By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
DETROIT -General Motors announced that its new OnStar Virtual Advisor service will offer real-time traffic updates, in addition to the previously announced package of personalized e-mail, stock and sports updates, and weather reports.
Virtual Advisor-set to launch in the Northeast by the end of the year, followed in the rest of the country by first-quarter 2001-will now work with Etak and Westwood One, to give individualized reports on road congestion and accidents.
Westwood One supplies traffic reports to hundreds of U.S. radio and TV stations. The traffic information service will cover 65 major U.S. metropolitan areas where 92 percent of the U.S. population resides.
Virtual Advisor was first announced a year ago. It will allow OnStar subscribers to receive e-mail and other personalized reports through speech-recognition and voice technology. It is delivered through the OnStar system, which is essentially a built-in GPS and cellphone system in the car and also allows drivers to access a 24-hour call-in center.
OnStar will be available in 32 of GM's 54 2001 models beginning in December. OnStar currently has more than half million subscribers and is on track to have 1 million enabled vehicles by end of 2000. Toyota and Honda expect to begin offering OnStar service on luxury vehicles this fall and next year, respectively.
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