Owners of older-model automobiles that lack on-board connectivity to web-enabled roadside assistance and other services featured in many newer vehicles will soon be able to access such services through a new connected car service to be launched by Verizon Communications. The new service, to be known as “Verizon Vehicle,” was announced at the Detroit Auto Show on Tuesday and will be targeted to more than 9,000 makes and models of cars and trucks sold in the U.S. since 1996. Verizon Vehicle will reportedly be marketed through Verizon Telematics, a division of Verizon Communications that evolved from Verizon’s acquisition of Hughes Telematics in 2012.
Proclaiming that Verizon Vehicle will “revolutionize the driving experience,” Verizon Telematics President Erik Goldman told reporters that the service will offer drivers of older-model vehicles (1) GPS-directed roadside assistance, (2) accident notification capabilities, (3) push-button access to A.S.E.-certified mechanics and customer care agents, (4) maintenance alerts, and (5) advanced diagnostics that can “provide early warnings relating to some vehicle functions, even before a warning light comes on.” Verizon Vehicle also provides discounts on hotels, auto repair and vehicle rentals and enables users to locate lost or stolen vehicles through the use of a smart phone app.
Verizon is expected to market the service in April at a monthly subscription rate of $14.99 that covers a diagnostic code reader to be installed under the vehicle dashboard and a speakerphone that clips to the visor. Sources say Verizon Vehicle responds to current trends in the U.S. automotive marketplace in which recent polls demonstrate that a majority of U.S. drivers are willing to add as much as $1,499 to the cost of new vehicles for web-connected safety, entertainment, geolocation and other options. Statistics issued by research firm IHS Automotive project that the number of Internet- connected cars worldwide will surge from 36 million today to more than 152 million by 2020. Observing, “there’s a very large, unserved market that we thought would benefit greatly from the features and functions you can offer through connectivity,” Verizon Telematics CEO Jeff Leddy explained in an interview: “we want to bring to the masses the same level of connectivity you can get in a new car.”