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Verizon Enters Telematics Aftermarket

Detroit — Verizon went to the International Detroit Auto Show here to unveil its first aftermarket car telematics service, expected to be available nationally around April 10 to complement the telematics services it makes available through automakers.

The subscription-based Verizon Vehicle service will be available initially through and (800) 711-5800 but will roll out through nationwide retailers late in 2015, the company said.

The service, likened to a race-car driver’s personal pit crew, provides GPS-based roadside assistance and emergency services, stolen-vehicle tracking, and vehicle-diagnostic updates and service reminders. The diagnostic updates are sent to users in near real time to their cellphone via text, email or push notification appearing on an optional Verizon Vehicle app.

It’s the only aftermarket service with two-way voice,” added Erik Goldman, president of Verizon Telematics.

The service costs $14.99/month for the first vehicle, with additional vehicles costing $12.99/month each. The subscription includes $120 worth of equipment. A two-year service contract with early-disconnect fee is required, but the fee is waived if users return the equipment.

The service requires a visor-mounted Bluetooth speaker and OBD reader that users plug into a vehicle’s OBD port. The OBD reader, which incorporates cellular and GPS, works with almost every vehicle made since 1996, or 9,000 models representing more than 200 million vehicles on the road without OEM telematics service.

Drivers summon roadside assistance or emergency services through a button on the Bluetooth speaker. Another button summons emergency help. In case the driver is unable to press the emergency button, the system detects crashes and calls the Verizon Vehicle support team, which summons help if no one responds to their questions.

Drivers can also talk through the Bluetooth speaker to ASE-certified mechanics to get details on diagnostic alerts and how much it would cost to make a repair.

The vehicle’s systems are constantly monitored, and alerts are sent before issues turn into major problems, the company said. Most check-engine alerts are translated into common terms with an indication of their severity and the appropriate cost for the repairs.

The system also provides early warnings before a warning light comes so drivers have time to pull off the road.

The service “brings the connected-car experience to virtually every vehicle on the road today,” said Verizon Telematics CEO Andres Irlando.