In four months, Mercedes-Benz USA will turn over operation of Tele Aid, a telematics service available in its vehicles for the past 10 years, to a new contractor. But a long court battle between Mercedes and current telematics provider ATX Group has complicated the transition.
The key issue: Are the 300,000 Mercedes owners who use the Tele Aid service ATX customers or Mercedes customers? And who has rights to customer information and crucial Web tools?
Tele Aid works much like General Motors' OnStar, providing drivers an emergency call button, automatic collision notification, remote door unlocking and stolen-vehicle tracking. Tele Aid also connects drivers to their dealers to schedule service appointments.
ATX, of Dallas, has operated Tele Aid exclusively since 1999. In 2007, Mercedes informed ATX that it planned to end the arrangement this November. Mercedes will switch customers to Hughes Telematics Inc., of Atlanta.