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Verizon Aims to Connect Older Cars With $15-a-Month Service

Verizon Vehicle is due in the second quarter of next year and is designed to work with nearly all cars made in the last two decades.

Screenshot by Re/code

Verizon on Tuesday announced Verizon Vehicle, a service it says will help hundreds of millions of older cars enjoy the in-car electronics and connectivity typically found only in the latest models.

 Verizon Vehicle, launching in the second quarter, taps the diagnostic port found on most cars along with this Bluetooth speaker.
Verizon Vehicle, launching in the second quarter, taps the diagnostic port found on most cars along with this Bluetooth speaker.

“There’s no bigger, more powerful connected device than the vehicle,” Andres Irlando, the newly minted head of Verizon’s telematics unit, said in a speech at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. “We will empower the millions of drivers who have been locked out of the digital experience.”

Verizon Vehicle is a mix of features, combining everything from information on how a car is performing to roadside assistance to LoJack-like stolen-vehicle tracking.

It uses the diagnostic port found in nearly all cars made during the last two decades, communicating via a Bluetooth speaker. The service offers a mix of features, including diagnostics to help figure out if a car is having a mechanical issue, the ability to instantly summon help in an accident, and things like a way to use your phone to track your parking spot or the time left on your parking meter.

In many cases, Verizon Vehicle can help drivers know why their check-engine light came on. Verizon says that’s a big deal, with eight percent of drivers riding around in a car with the light on at any given time.

Since it will also compete with roadside assistance services like AAA, Verizon says it too will have a suite of discounts on hotels, car rentals and travel expenses.

The service is due to launch in the second quarter of this year with a starting price of $14.99 a month, including all of the key features. Verizon Vehicle uses its own Verizon Wireless connection, rather than tethering to a smartphone, meaning it works regardless of which carrier one uses for cellphone service. The pricing is also the same for Verizon and non-Verizon phone customers.

“We’re targeting the entire market,” Verizon General Manager Kevin Link told Re/code. “We don’t want to create a disincentive for non-Verizon customers.”

Another benefit, Link said, is that Verizon Vehicle isn’t tied to the vehicle, meaning customers can take it with them when they buy their next car if it doesn’t have similar services built in.

Verizon’s service is similar to ones offered by upstarts like Automatic and Metromile, though Verizon is charging more and offering additional services.

One feature not touted on Tuesday was using the Verizon Vehicle connection to provide Wi-Fi inside the car. Asked whether that might be coming, Link said only, “Stay tuned.”

Verizon was an early pioneer of in-car connectivity, powering the initial version of OnStar before being supplanted by AT&T in 2013.

This article originally appeared on

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