US telecoms giant Verizon Communications is looking to bring connected car technology to older cars with the launch of a monthly subscription service.
Verizon Vehicle provides information on the car’s performance (which can provide detail on why the check-engine light comes on), as well as roadside assistance and tracking in the event of the vehicle being stolen.
It also provides maintenance reminders, which can be sent by email, and a way to track time left on a parking meter.
The operator Verizon supplies a device that is plugged into the car’s on-board diagnostic port which is connected via Bluetooth to a speaker mounted on the sun visor. The system is compatible with most cars manufactured since 1996 — estimated to total more than 200 million in the US.
The speaker includes one button to call a live mechanical helpline and another for emergency assistance, which makes use of the system’s built-in GPS.
A Verizon Vehicle app (for Android and iOS) will be available to give customers information about their car via a smartphone.
The service has its own connection rather than tethering through another device, meaning customers don’t have to have an existing contract with Verizon Wireless to use the service. The pricing is the same for Verizon and non-Verizon customers.
Verizon general manager Kevin Link indicated to Re/code that the option for Verizon Vehicle to provide an in-vehicle Wi-Fi connection is in the pipeline.
Many new cars feature these kinds of services, but Verizon is clearly targeting owners of older vehicles that don’t support this kind of functionality.
“It affords millions of drivers the power of knowing when things aren’t working well, potentially before a breakdown occurs — fostering a safer, smarter and more economical way to drive and maintain a vehicle,” said Erik Goldman, president of Verizon Telematics.
Verizon Vehicle customers will have access to discounts on hotels, car rentals and travel expenses, similar to those offered by other roadside assistance services.
Verizon Vehicle will be available from “on or about” 10 April, with customers able to pre-order the packages now.
Customers who pre-order will have the $14.99 fee waived for the first month. Each additional vehicle will cost an extra $12.99 per month. Customers are required to sign up for a minimum of two years.