After a one-year delay, Ford Motor Co. is offering a plug-in device that adds connected-car technology to older Ford vehicles.
The device, called FordPass Smart-Link, works on 2010 through 2017 models and plugs into the OBD-II port below the steering wheel. It allows remote vehicle starting, locking and unlocking, Internet access via a 4G LTE hot spot, location tracking, diagnostics and driving performance monitoring through the FordPass smartphone app.
Ford announced plans for Smart-Link last year, but delayed the rollout to integrate it with the FordPass smartphone app. The automaker is signing up dealers to sell the device, which will be available nationwide by midyear.
In addition to turning a smartphone into a remote key fob, Smart-Link can inform customers of problems with their vehicle and how to get repairs. It can send about 20 alerts as it monitors oil life, tire pressure and other levels, and can connect customers with a Ford dealer to schedule service appointments.
A security feature sends an alert, through text or email, if a vehicle is hit. It can be programmed to notice even slight bumps, such as a shopping cart in a parking lot.
A live-tracking feature refreshes every two seconds and offers a map of where the vehicle has been, which drivers could use for getting mileage reimbursement from their employer.
SmartLink requires a two-year contract, at $16.99 a month, covering the cost of the device and telematics services through Verizon, Ford said. Installation, which includes programming it to work with the customer's phone, is an additional cost set by individual dealerships. Dealerships that sell SmartLink will need to have employees take training courses.
A Lincoln version of the device is expected, but Ford has not yet released details.