Recent advances in wireless communications have given rise to a host of new automotive technologies made in the area of “connected cars.” In a recent survey by consulting firm Accenture plc, 39 percent of participants said onboard communications and infotainment technologies have a greater bearing on their buying decisions than mechanical performance, and a recent Harris Poll found that the majority of consumers are willing to pay as much as $1,499 for the devices and services.
Unfortunately, soaring sticker prices and the fear of premature obsolescence are causing more and more Americans to squeeze every last mile out of their older autos before finally selling or trading them in for newer models. In fact, an estimated 200 million autos on U.S. roads lack onboard wireless connectivity to the Internet, cell towers or global positioning satellite technology.
To help consumers bridge the technology gap, Verizon Communications, Inc. has developed Verizon Vehicle; and aftermarket wireless service that the company says will be compatible with more than 9,000 makes and models sold in the U.S. since 1996.
Verizon Telematics CEO Jeff Leddy says, “There’s a very large, unserved market that we thought would benefit greatly from the features and functions you can offer through connectivity. We want to bring to the masses the same level of connectivity you can get in a new car.”
The subscription based service will allow users to connect their older-model vehicles to the wireless service provider of their choice, and will focus on providing consumers with some advanced safety and security capabilities not previously available to them.
Hardware will consist of a diagnostic code reader which can be discreetly mounted under the vehicle’s dashboard, and a speakerphone attached to the driver’s side sun visor.
The diagnostic code reader will be able to diagnose and recommend fixes for common mechanical problems, while the speakerphone will provide basic communications capabilities, including an emergency button that can be used to summon help in the event of a breakdown.
Leddy admits Verizon Vehicle doesn’t offer the “high-tech sex appeal” of some other services, but says, “This is what the consumer is looking for.” He says “other bells and whistles” may be offered to subscribers in the future.
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