Telematics, or connected car technology, refers to automotive technology and telecommunications.1 If you’ve ever used your car’s GPS navigation system or pressed a “Help” button on your car’s touch display to dispatch emergency services, you’ve put connected car technology to use. Though OnStar is used as a catchall term for telematics systems in vehicles, today there are several alternatives on the market. Hyundai Blue Link System, Toyota Entune and BMW iDrive ConnectedDrive are just a few options GM competitors have developed to equip their own vehicles.2 Plus, there are other subscription-based connected car technology services that work with most cars, such as Hum by Verizon.3
Beyond turn-by-turn directions, the ability to unlock your vehicle remotely and hands-free calling, telematics technology also monitors vehicle diagnostics. This can mean tracking your driving habits, which has a broad range of benefits, including maintenance notifications and data sharing to help you obtain discounts on auto insurance. Before you choose a system for your car, look for these prime features.
Security and safety
Connected car technologies were originally designed with safety and security in mind. Because these systems use built-in technology and cellular radios to connect your car with the outside world, you don’t need a smartphone to take advantage of their safety features.1 These are core safety features that quality telematics systems have adopted:
- Automatic collision notification. If specific conditions are met, such as deployed airbags, this feature will automatically connect you to an operator or emergency services system.1 After no response or a confirmation that a crash occurred, the operator will dispatch help.1
- Emergency and roadside assistance. Most systems have a “Help” or “SOS” button if you have a non-crash related emergency, such as the onset of a medical condition or if your car breaks down.4
- Theft recovery. If your car is stolen, your connected car service can help the police track it down, thanks to its GPS.4
- Vehicle diagnostics report. Some services report on the condition of your car, which can help you remember to schedule regular maintenance.4
Because features like these can mean extra safety and security, insurance companies may offer car insurance discounts if you have certain connected car technology. Ask your insurance company if you qualify for technology-related discounts.
Convenience and navigation
Depending on the system, connected car technology provides features of convenience, including:
- Locked-out solutions. If you lock yourself out of your car, some systems allow you to call the service to unlock your car or do it through an integrated smartphone app.1
- Concierge-based navigation. This feature allows you to contact an operator and request turn-by-turn directions or locate restaurants, gas stations or local attractions.1
- GPS navigation. A built-in GPS helps you seamlessly arrive at your destination.4
- Traffic updates and re-routing. This feature lets you know where to expect traffic jams and can help you find detours.4
- Weather information. Many systems offer on-screen forecasts so you know what weather to expect during your drive.4
- Hands-free calling. Some systems, such as OnStar, can make calls without pairing your cell phone.1
- Remote access. Some systems allow you to start the car with the touch of a key fob or control the climate in your car through an app.1
For many drivers, connected car technology means peace of mind. No more scrambling for directions on your phone or wondering what to do if you’re locked out of your car. A good system simply makes your life easier.