Verizon (NYSE: VZ) announced its new "Verizon Vehicle" connected-car service that is designed to provide roadside assistance, vehicle monitoring and other services to the roughly 200 million older cars on the road today that cannot connect to a wireless network. The product is scheduled to launch April 10 and will cost $14.99 per month ($12.99 per month for each additional vehicle) with a two-year contract.
The product works through an OBD reader, which a user can plug into the OBD II (On-Board Diagnostics) port on their existing, unconnected car (Verizon said the product can work with more than 9,000 models of automobiles). The reader is able to access a user's vehicle diagnostics, including information on the car's engine, battery and other components. The product also includes a Bluetooth speaker that a user can clip to their visor. The result is a system that can pinpoint a user's location via GPS, transmit data on their vehicle's condition, and connect that user to help and information services via a voice call, email, text message or push notification via the Verizon Vehicle Android or iOS smartphone app.
Erik Goldman, president of Verizon Telematics, said the product will "revolutionize the driving experience."
"It's like having your own mechanic take a look under the hood each time you drive your vehicle," added Will Power, the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Champion who joined Goldman in announcing Verizon Vehicle at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Specifically, Verizon said its Verizon Vehicle offering can provide:
- GPS-directed roadside assistance and towing services.
- Accident notification services.
- One-button access to customer care agents and A.S.E.-certified mechanics.
- Predictive diagnostics that can "provide early warnings relating to some vehicle functions, even before a warning light comes on, to help keep you off the side of the road."
- Parking services that will help users find where they left their vehicle (using the Verizon Vehicle smartphone app).
- Maintenance alerts that tell users when they are due for routine maintenance like oil changes.
- Stolen vehicle location assistance.
- And discounts on hotels, vehicle rentals, auto maintenance, repairs and related travel expenses.
Verizon's Goldman promised the company would offer additional services in the future.
Verizon isn't the only company to target the connected car space. Auto makers continue to install connected car services in new vehicles--for example, General Motors last week unveiled a new part of its OnStar service dubbed AtYourService that will let retailers and other merchants advertise and send deals directly to drivers in their cars. And companies like Google and Apple are developing software that can connect Android (for Google) and iOS (for Apple) phones to users' automobiles. And telecommunications companies like AT&T (NYSE: T) continue to work to provide connections and services for the connected car space; just last week AT&T announced it would power LoJack's current and future telematics solutions, as well as Subaru's future connected car services. AT&T also announced five new applications for the company's industry leading connected car platform, AT&T Drive.
Verizon Vehicle stems directly from Verizon's agreement to buy Hughes Telematics for $612 million in cash in 2012. Verizon rebranded the business Verizon Telematics. Verizon Vehicle is also partly an effort by Verizon to steal back some thunder in the connected car space: Verizon was famously replaced by OnStar with AT&T in 2013--Verizon Vehicle essentially stands as Verizon's response to OnStar.
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