Ford is finally detailing availability of its FordPass SmartLink accessory, an OBD II plug-in device with Verizon 4G LTE on board which can add connected car features to model year 2010 to 2017 Ford vehicles that don’t already have native connectivity built in.
The FordPass accessory will be available across the U.S. sometime in the middle of this year, with dealer enrolment now open. Dealers will provide the device to end users, providing installation for the add-on hardware, which will then cost users $16.99 per month for 24 months to get telematics services including remote key fob (via smartphone), car location and vehicle health alerts. The Verizon 4G LTE hotspot feature is an additional cost, but users will get a free trial for 30 days or until they reach 1GB of data usage.
This is a way for Ford to build up its data business even on existing vehicles out in the market, even while it also aims to have 100 percent of its new car lineup shipping with connectivity built-in by next year. Data is the new oil, so to speak, when it comes to the automaker value chain, and having as many customers as possible feeding that funnel is the best way for car companies and anyone in transportation to prepare for the future.
On the consumer side, the value proposition is a bit more questionable. Owners of older vehicles are probably less likely to value connected features, and the ones that are included with the base $17 per month subscription fee over the course of two years (so $408 in total) include nice-to-have, but definitely not essential benefits. The Wi-Fi hotspot is the real carrot, but it’s an additional cost in monthly data service over and above the base fee.