DETROIT -- Chrysler Group will introduce an option on two 2013 vehicles that lets consumers call emergency services or a Chrysler call center by touching a button -- and without a cell phone -- similar to General Motors' OnStar system.
The feature, Access Assist, is part of the latest generation of Chrysler's Uconnect infotainment system and debuts this fall in the 2013 SRT Viper and versions of the 2013 Ram 1500 pickup. The vehicles have two buttons -- one marked "911" and the other marked "assist" -- mounted on the rearview mirror bezel.
The 911 button calls local emergency dispatchers. The assist button summons an around-the-clock Chrysler call center through the vehicle's cellular connection. The feature debuts this year in the Ram light-duty pickup and the Viper sports coupe, but it is likely to migrate to other Chrysler vehicles. The cellular connection is made through Sprint's network.
Sue Frederick, marketing manager for Chrysler's UConnect systems and services, said the assist button will allow consumers to get live help to connect their smartphones to the vehicle's Uconnect system. They can also summon roadside assistance or ask for other help with their vehicles.
The service is similar to OnStar, GM's safety and navigation system, though Uconnect won't automatically call emergency services after a crash as OnStar does.
Access Assist will have a free trial period of six to 12 months, depending on the vehicle and trim level. Pricing after the trial period has not been announced.
Access Assist is one of several changes in Chrysler's latest version of Uconnect. The embedded cellular connection also will allow equipped vehicles to serve as mobile wireless hotspots through Sprint's network for an extra charge, and allow the customer service center to lock or unlock a vehicle remotely.
Chrysler also is developing smartphone applications that will integrate with the Uconnect system. The applications will enable owners to start vehicles, honk the horn, flash the lights or trigger the door locks from anywhere that the customer has cellular service, a Chrysler spokesman said.
The smartphone apps are scheduled to be released this fall for both Android and iPhone operating systems.