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Verizon Vehicle: a network connection for any car, even yours

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Today at the North American International Auto Show, Verizon announced Verizon Vehicle, a way to bring connected features to any car on the road. A lot of cars sold now have LTE or other connections built-in, but what about the millions that don't? The new subscription service includes a device that plugs into a car's OBD-II port to scan for any potential issues (even before you notice a problem), track the vehicle via GPS and communicates with the driver via its app or a Bluetooth speaker that clips onto your visor. A specific list of features is available after the break plus a picture of the setup, and we'll be asking execs detailed questions like "so how much does it cost?" a little later.

It sounds a lot like what Chevrolet is doing with OnStar, but you can get it on any car. You can talk to a support rep or request a tow-truck just by voice, and it's already tagged to your car and location. The same goes for communicating with a mechanic and even getting a quote, all without even getting out of the car. There's no hotspot or anything that gets your other devices online, and there's no word on what kind of bandwidth the connection has either.

Update: We spoke with president Erik Goldman and narrowed down some of the details about the new service. It's expected to launch nationally in Q2, and while the hardware itself is free there is a $15 per month service fee. It's basically a phone that plugs into your car, so when you use the intercom to call for help, it's really making a phone call. The price point isn't all that separates it from a solution like Delphi Connect, since according to Goldman, this is like the system Verizon powers for Mercedes-Benz -- but available to everyone. With its ability to warn of an issue before it becomes critical or call for help (and send your exact location), this is a bit better than most roadside assistance packages, but that monthly fee could quickly add up.

Summary of Features
The subscription-based service will include:

  • GPS-directed pinpoint Roadside Assistance for breakdowns, flat tires, overheating, a dead battery - anything that might require towing or immediate repair. Dispatches are made to the exact location of a disabled vehicle.
  • Automatic Urgent Incident Alert System places a call to the Verizon Vehicle Member Care Center in the event of a suspected accident. Help is immediately dispatched to the location if an accident is confirmed or there is no response from the driver. The time saved can potentially save lives by delivering critical emergency assistance when a person may not be able to call for help.
  • One-Button SOS Assistance immediately connects the driver to a live agent for emergency aid.
  • Auto Health System with Predictive Diagnostics translates most "Check Engine" light occurrences into real terms, including the description and severity of the matter, the probable solutions for the problem - and the appropriate cost for the repairs. The system is also designed to 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.
  • Mechanic's Hotline is staffed with A.S.E. Certified Mechanics providing members access to immediate and unbiased information related to their vehicles, and a professional analysis of trouble they may be experiencing.
  • Parking & Meter Tools help drivers find where they left their vehicle - using the Verizon Vehicle smartphone app - while also keeping track of how much time is left on the meter.
  • Maintenance Alerts inform vehicle owners when scheduled maintenance is required. No more guesswork as to when to rotate those tires or change the oil.
  • Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance guides drivers when reporting a theft and helps authorities recover the stolen vehicle.
  • Travel & Repair Savings - Verizon Vehicle members will be entitled to substantial discounts on hotels, vehicle rentals, auto maintenance, repairs and related travel expenses.

Verizon owns Engadget's parent company, Verizon Media. Rest assured, Verizon has no control over our coverage. Engadget remains editorially independent.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
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