Technology progression moves quickly. For that reason, Ford is expanding wireless connectivity features for owners of older model vehicles through a new 4G LTE-enabled OBD-II plug-in device. Ford SmartLink is aimed at customers who own 2010 through 2016 model year Ford and Lincoln vehicles that lack a modem.
It will provide access to:
– smartphone-based remote start
– lock and unlock services
– 4G Wi-Fi hotspot capable of serving up to 8 devices
– vehicle health and security alerts
– vehicle location assistance
Ford collaborated with Delphi Automotive and Verizon Wireless in developing the new OBD-II dongle, which took two years to design, test and build. From security to performance, they’ve conducted extensive testing and made a number of improvements to ensure Ford SmartLink enhances the customer experience.
Starting with its Sync system a decade ago, Ford was ahead of the curve with connecting cars to the cloud. But only with a tethered phone, and the automaker was slow to add embedded connectivity via an in-car modem; only doing so across most of its models just over a year ago. But owners of Ford and Lincoln vehicles from the 2010 to 2016 model years will soon be able to retroactively add connectivity using a smartphone app or the Web via a new system called SmartLink to access a range of features that weren’t available when they bought their car, truck or SUV.
While ODB-II dongles have created an entire aftermarket connected car industry and SmartLink-like features are available on many new vehicles, Ford is the first major automaker to offer retroactive connectivity to its customers. SmartLink will be available through Ford and Lincoln dealers and has the ability to schedule service through dealerships. SmartLink will be available starting this summer, with pricing to be announced closer to launch, according to Ford.
Fiat-Chrysler introduced something similar recently, although theirs is a free update to existing software. The free update is available for certain Ram, Dodge, Jeep, and Chrysler vehicles equipped with the Uconnect 8.4 touchscreen.
– 2013-2015 Ram 1500, 2500, and 3500
– 2013-2015 Dodge Viper
– 2014-2015 Dodge Durango
– 2015 Dodge Challenger and Charger
– 2014-2015 Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee
– 2015 Jeep Renegade
– 2015 Chrysler 200 and 300
Nearly 2 million vehicles are eligible for the new software. Vehicle owners in the U.S. and Canada can visit FCA’s UConnect website to get started. FCA says the update can take between 30 and 45 minutes.
Siri Eyes Free allows drivers to give voice commands to send text messages, select songs on the radio, make phone calls, set calendar entries, and access turn-by-turn directions. Other automakers, including Honda, General Motors, and Toyota to name a few, have signed agreements with Apple to use the technology in their cars.
FCA just recently added Apple CarPlay to its fourth-gen Uconnect system. The tech integrates a customer’s iPhone into the vehicle’s built-in display and controls, and it also facilitates Siri controls. The automaker also has introduced Android Auto capability on its models.