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Automatic Debuts Plug-In Driving Assistant

San Francisco — Automatic has launched an iPhone-compatible plug-in driving assistant that has a one-time cost of $69.95.  

The Automatic Link plugs into a car’s OBD port and uses Bluetooth to connect an iPhone 4S or 5. The accompanying app will display miles per gallon gas usage and parking reminders, and can also notify of car problems and help decode the issue. The company said the app even allows drivers to clear the “Check Engine” light for certain issues; for those in which the light can’t be cleared, the app will display a list of nearby mechanics.  

 The device can provide a driver score based on “metrics shown to increase fuel efficiency and safety, like braking and accelerating smoothly,” the company said, with the score given on a 100-point scale.

A Crash Alert feature uses a series of algorithms to determine if the car has been in an accident, and will alert the company’s servers if there has been one. The servers will in turn contact the nearest 911 dispatcher with an automated call that provides the GPS location and car description. It will also notify a user-designated emergency contact.

The Automatic Link will retail for a suggested $69.95, and there are no monthly service fees after purchase. The company said no fees are planned for the future.

The device can be pre-ordered now on the company’s website, and shipping is scheduled for May.  A spokesperson for the company said it will be available in big-box retailers down the line but wasn’t able to provide specifics.

An Android version of the app will be available in the fall.