OnStar.automotiveIT

Mary Chan (Photo: Dell)

General Motors has hired a senior executive from computer maker Dell to run its global infotainment operations, which include the OnStar telematics unit.

The carmaker said Mary Chan, senior vice president and general manager of Dell's Enterprise Mobility Solutions & Services division, started at GM May 1 in the newly created role of "vice president global connected consumer."

Chan will report to GM Vice Chairman Stephen Girsky.

Though OnStar is one of the most successful telematics-based automotive emergency and safety services with more than 6 million subscribers in North America and China, insiders say GM has had difficulties defining a longer term infotainment strategy.

Onstar now has its third president in 16 months. Veteran GM executive Chris Preuss left the company unexpectedly in January, 2011, and his successor, Linda Marshall, departed in February.

gm mary chan.automotiveIT

Mary Chan (Photo: Dell)

Telematics-based services is a key competitive battlefield for the auto industry. Ford is rolling out its Sync service internationally and other carmakers such as Toyota, Hyundai and premium brands Audi, BMW and Mercedes have all announced major new offerings.

GM has received positive initial reviews of its new CUE infotainment system, which will be available on new Cadillac models.

GM cited Chan's background in consumer electronics, enterprise solutions and global wireless network experience as key assets. The new executive will be charged with developing and executing a strategic global infotainment plan for the group and expanding OnStar globally, GM said in a statement.

In addition, the carmaker said Chan will pull together the various GM group connectivity-related activities.