Verizon today announced a new aftermarket vehicle diagnostics and roadside assistance service that works by plugging a dongle into any car's OBD computer port.
Once connected, Verizon Vehicle service notifies the driver of any maintenance issues, as well as connecting them to roadside assistance and online mechanic advise.
Speaking at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Eric Goldman, president of Verizon Telematics, said the service is suited to more than 200 million cars, and encompasses more than 900 models on the road today that do not have native telematics technology.
"Regardless of the wireless carriers you use for your mobile phone, Verizon will connect your vehicle to a suite of features providing a whole new level of safety, confidence and knowledge about how your vehicle is operating," Goldman said during a live-streamed news conference today.
The subscription-based service works through several technologies. First, the dongle reads the vehicle's onboard diagnostics computer, much like any OBD2 code reader that consumers can buy in retail or online stores today.
Secondly, a Bluetooth-enabled speaker attaches to the vehicle's visor and provides voice notifications of any maintenance issues.
The speaker also offers one-button push connection to a Verizon member care group, a mechanics hotline and GPS-directed roadside assistance service. There is also a second button for "SOS" emergency situations that also works via GPS technology.
Third, a complementary smartphone app can be used to set up the service to contact someone by phone, text, push notification or email in the event of a mechanical issue.
Like the OnStar emergency service GM uses, Verizon's Automatic Urgent Incident AlertSystem automatically 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 could help save lives by delivering critical emergency assistance when a person may not be able to call for help.
The Verizon Vehicle service, the price for which has not yet been announced, is expected to launch nationally this spring with availability through nationwide retailers late in this year. Advance consumer orders for the service are being accepted at VerizonVehicle.com and at 800-711-5800.