The newly announced 2019 Ford Fusion has a built-in modem that allows customers to access a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, monitor vehicle diagnostics, and access other services through an app. But what about Ford owners who aren’t ready to buy a new car just to get those features? FordPass SmartLink addresses this issue with a simple OBD II device that plugs in to 2010 to 2017 Fords and pairs with smartphones.
Ford owners who either missed the connected-car boat or chose not to tick that option box at the time of purchase can now press the redo button by installing a device. The service requires a two-year contract, priced at $16.99 per month, and the device itself is included as part of that contract. That subscription does not include the price of installation, which Ford says is required to pair to the car and sync key fobs with the owner’s smartphone. The service is exclusive to Verizon smartphone accounts for now.
In addition to integrating a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, which comes with a 30-day or 1-gigabyte trial (the cost after that has not yet been announced), the device adds numerous services and centrally locates them on the SmartLink app. Users can remotely start, lock, or unlock the car with the touch of a finger. Location services allow for near-live tracking and can be used to set up geofences for the car. Using an accelerometer, the system can also alert users if the car is bumped, broken into, or starts rolling for some reason.
Ford is currently in the process of equipping and training dealerships for launch of the SmartLink, but it is not yet widely available. Preorders are open, but customers likely won’t get the product until the middle of 2018.