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Verizon Vehicle turns your old ride into a connected car

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At the North American International Auto Show today, Verizon rolled out a new service called Verizon Vehicle that's basically a way to modernize a car that's already on the road by connecting it to telematics services — think of it like an OnStar that you can install yourself. The system includes a module that plugs into a car's OBD port, a Bluetooth speaker, and a smartphone app.

Like an OnStar you can install yourself

Verizon Vehicle includes a variety of features: roadside assistance, automatic notification if your car is suspected to be in an accident, a vehicle locator (so you can't get lost in a parking lot), stolen vehicle tracking, an SOS button for emergencies, and car diagnostics, among other things. Many (if not most) of these features are available from a modern car's built-in systems, but Verizon's targeting a potentially huge market: older cars with tech-savvy drivers. Sales kick off around April 10th, with availability in brick-and-mortar retailers expected toward the end of the year. The service will run $14.99 a month (hardware included) for the first vehicle and $12.99 for each additional one.

This could be an interesting test for the notion of the "connected car" as a product: millions of drivers are using them simply by virtue of the fact that automakers have made them standard equipment — OnStar, for instance, ships on effectively every GM vehicle sold in North America. The add-on market for these systems, though, is largely untested; OnStar once sold a similar product called the OnStar FMV, but it is now discontinued.