Would you pay $16.99 a month to bring connected car features to your vehicle if you don’t already have them?
That’s the offer Ford is hoping will resonate with owners of its older model year cars.
Introducing the FordPass SmartLink upgrade
If you’ve got a Ford vehicle from model year 2010 to 2017, you’ll soon be able to turn it into a connected vehicle thanks to a FordPass SmartLink upgrade.
“Connectivity” in this case means the ability to control key fob features from your phone, get vehicle health and security alerts on your phone and have access to vehicle location tracking.
A Verizon 4G LTE hotspot feature will also be offered as add-on charge.
Ford dealers around the country will offer the FordPass SmartLink upgrade by the middle of 2018, according to this press release. The SmartLink is a little device that plugs into your car’s OBD II port below your steering wheel.
Basic features like remote key fob, car location, vehicle health alert will run you $16.99 each month for 24 months, plus an installation fee.
You’ll have to pay extra for a Verizon 4G LTE hotspot feature, though. A free one-month trial does come included, but it only lasts until you either consume 1 GB of data or hit 30 days — whichever happens first.
After that, if you like having reliable in-vehicle Wi-Fi, you can add the FordPass SmartLink device to an existing Verizon account at an additional charge or sign up as a new account. No word yet on what you’ll pay for each month for the hotspot.
But this much is certain: Connectivity is the wave of the future in the automotive world. By next year, all new Ford vehicles will roll off the product lines with full connectivity built in.
Turn your old ride into an autonomous vehicle
Meanwhile, in a similar vein, a couple of years ago money expert Clark Howard talked on his show about free software you could download to turn your vehicle into a self-driving car!
This is tinkerer’s dream. Beyond just downloading the software, you’ll also need a dashcam-like device that can be built with a 3D printer to make this work. Or you can pay $700 for an already built version.
The free software that’s offered will automate Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) in a handful of vehicles so far — including select 2016-2018 models from nameplates such as Acura, Honda, Lexus and Toyota.
The usual caveats apply: You’ll be a bleeding-edge adopter here if you go for this and you’ll need a high level of sophistication with hardware and software to make it all work. Otherwise, don’t try this at home, folks!