I drive a 2012 vehicle that I'm still making payments on. I don't intend to trade it in any time soon, but that does mean I won't enjoy the benefits of having a 'connected' vehicle any time soon. Or at least that's what it meant before yesterday when Verizon announced Verizon Vehicle.
Verizon Vehicle is a lot like OnStar only you can install it in any car with an OBD-II connection. I'm not a huge car guy so I had to Google that. Turns out every car built since 1996 is supposed to have an OBD-II connection and it must be "located within three feet of the driver and must not require any tools to be revealed." OBDII.com suggests looking under the dash and behind ashtrays.
Assuming you can find your OBD-II port, you simple plug a dongle into it, clip a bluetooth speaker to your visor and Verizon Vehicle is installed. There's also an app that you can install on your phone.
So what does it do? It offers automotive diagnostics (in theory notifying you of issues before they become major problems), provides roadside assistant (with GPS to help a tow-truck driver get to you ASAP), works like a Lo-Jack system if your vehicle is stolen (though I imagine if these devices become popular the first thing a car thief will do is look for that dongle and chuck it) and the system will automatically call for help if it detects that your car has been in an accident. Verizon Vehicle also comes with service and travel discounts. You can learn more details about these (and additional) features in the press release or on the Verizon Vehicle site.
This is a subscription-based service with no hardware costs. It'll be $14.99/month for your first vehicle and $12.99/month for each additional vehicle. A two-year contract is required and there are early cancellation fees that will be waived if the equipment is returned. The system is planned to launch in early April and you can sign up at the site to be notified when more information is available. Alternatively if you pre-order you can get the first month of service for free.