Ford’s New Plug-In Device Connects Your Old Car to the Web

January 27, 2017, 12:57 PM UTC
Uber Autonomous Cars
A self-driving Ford Fusion hybrid car is test driven, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Pittsburgh. Uber said that passengers in Pittsburgh will be able to summon rides in self-driving cars with the touch of a smartphone button in the next several weeks. The high-tech ride-hailing company said that an unspecified number of autonomous Ford Fusions with human backup drivers will pick up passengers just like normal Uber vehicles. Riders will be able to opt in if they want a self-driving car, and rides will be free to those willing to do it, spokesman Matt Kallman said. (AP Photo/Jared Wickerham)
Photograph by Jared Wickerham — AP

Ford Motor said on Friday it would sell a plug-in device to enable features like remote start, security alerts, a Wifi hotspot and vehicle location assistance on 2010-2016 model year Ford and Lincoln cars.

The device would compete with similar products sold by other companies, including devices from AT&T and Verizon that add a Wifi hotspot to older model cars.

The SmartLink technology in the Ford device allows models that do not come pre-equipped with a modem to be more connected, enabling doors to be locked and unlocked remotely and supplying engine management alerts, the company said in a statement.

The after-market device, which plugs into the car’s OBD II port below the steering wheel, would be sold at dealerships beginning this summer. Ford (F) did not disclose a price.

All U.S. cars built after 1996 model year are mandated by law to have an OBD II port, which has historically been used for onboard diagnostics.

Carmakers worry third-party devices can interfere with their own embedded systems, introduce security bugs, and exploit data they say is their own, such as the car’s health or miles driven.