Verizon intros Verizon Vehicle, its answer to old, unconnected cars

Verizon's latest IoT play works with any vehicle made since 1996, which is nearly 9,000 models. It's also wireless carrier agnostic.

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During a presentation Tuesday at the North American Auto Show in Detroit, Verizon introduced its answer to old, unconnected cars.

It's called Verizon Vehicle, and according to Verizon Telematics president Eric Goldman, it works with any vehicle made since 1996 -- which is nearly 9,000 models. It's also carrier agnostic, meaning that it's open to everyone, regardless of their wireless service provider.

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The Bluetooth speaker for Verizon Vehicle

"Verizon Vehicle is a unique and truly holistic aftermarket solution available to over 200 million vehicles on the road today," Goldman said. "It affords millions of drivers the power of knowing when things aren't working well, potentially before a breakdown occurs -- fostering a safer, smarter and more economical way to drive and maintain a vehicle."

The system works by plugging in an OBD reader to a car's onboard diagnostic port and placing a two-way Bluetooth speaker someplace like a visor.

Users can then access an accompanying mobile app to diagnose mechanical problems, dispatch a tow truck or request emergency aid.

The service can also connect a driver to a mechanic who can talk them through an issue and suggest how much it should cost to fix. The Bluetooth speaker can be used for communication in addition to the mobile app, as it offers one-button push connection to the member care group, the mechanics hotline and GPS-guided roadside assistance.

Seeing as how Verizon Vehicle will compete with similar roadside services such as AAA, Verizon said it plans to offer a suite of discounts on hotels, car rentals and travel expenses.

Verizon expects the Vehicle service to debut in the second quarter of 2015, which is sometime this spring. No pricing details were immediately released.

It will be interesting to see how the service is received once it goes to market, as there could be some concerns with the amount and type of data that it collects from users. Technically speaking, it's similar to the Snapshot program offered by auto insurer Progressive, which has garnered more than 10 billion miles of driving data from users who opt-in for the service.

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