If you have a relatively new car (2015 or newer), you might have heard of—or might already be using—your car manufacturer’s connected services app. By 2030, researchers expect 96% of new vehicles worldwide to be shipped as connected cars with built-in internet connectivity and access to connected services.
Drivers use connected services today to get more control and visibility over vehicle management, safety, and on-demand functions like seat heating, activating air conditioning, and extending battery ranges. As connected services differ from car brand to car brand, it can be confusing to know what connected services are and how to sign up for them.
This blog post gives you a quick overview of everything you need to know about the benefits of connected services, how pricing differs across automakers, and the role connected services play in our mobility ecosystem.
What are connected services?
A connected services account lets drivers remotely monitor and control a vehicle using the vehicle manufacturer’s mobile app. For example, you can use this connected services app to see your car’s location directly on your phone, check its mileage, lock and unlock the doors, and preheat the battery. You can also use it to get notified as soon as you run low on gas or see your electric car’s battery level and remotely start and stop charging it.
What is a connected services app?
As each car manufacturer offers its own connected services account with a dedicated mobile app, functionalities differ from car brand to car brand. Some automakers have apps named after their brand, while others have distinct names for their app.
For example, the Toyota connected service app is called Toyota Connected Services while Ford's app is called FordPass.
The easiest way to learn about the features your car brand offers is by visiting their website. Smartcar also has resources to help vehicle owners set up their connected services account if their vehicle is compatible with Smartcar. You can also keep reading for a complete list of connected services pricing for all Smartcar-compatible brands.
How do connected services help vehicle owners?
A shift in consumer expectations drives the growth of the connected car market. Connected services subscriptions add value to the driver experience by giving vehicle owners an easier way to personalize their in-vehicle environment, remote start their car, use a digital key to unlock car doors, access advanced navigation and road safety features, and connect vehicles to infotainment systems and third-party mobility apps.
Although the price of connected services remains the biggest reason why drivers don’t activate their connected services, over 80% of drivers surveyed by S&P Global Mobility say they would consider purchasing connected services subscriptions for their future vehicles.
How do connected services work?
Connected services capabilities are powered by technology that allows cars to connect to the internet — hence being known as connected cars. Like a smartphone, a connected car has a cellular modem built into it right from the factory. This modem lets the car connect to the cellular network and communicate with other internet-connected devices such as mobile phones.
With this internet connectivity, you can use your car manufacturer’s connected services app to look at your vehicle telemetry data, including your car’s location, odometer reading, fuel tank level or EV battery level, tire pressure, and engine oil life.
How to set up your connected services account
To be eligible for a connected services account, your car needs to be connected. Being “connected” simply means that your vehicle has a cellular modem built-in that allows it to connect to the internet.
Each car manufacturer has a different process for setting up your connected services account. For some car brands like Tesla, you receive your account credentials right when purchasing your vehicle. For other brands, setting up your connected services account might take up to 15 minutes and involve getting inside your car to press a button or use your car’s infotainment screen.
Your vehicle might still be connected even if you don’t yet have your connected services account set up. Head to connectyourcar.com to check whether your car is eligible and to get step-by-step instructions on setting up your connected services account. If your car brand is not included on connectyourcar.com, check your car brand’s website or call them to ask whether your car is eligible.
Is my automaker’s connected services free?
It depends on your car brand!
Some automakers offer their connected services account for free, while others charge you. Most of them provide initial free trials. Here’s a list of connected services information for all brands compatible with Smartcar (you can get more information from connectyourcar.com).
How many drivers use connected services?
Researchers estimate that 66% of drivers in the United States use their connected services capabilities.
Connected cars are becoming the standard for any newer vehicle. By 2030, 96% of all new vehicles shipped worldwide will be connected — with 400 million connected vehicles on the road by 2025. Automakers today incentivize ownership of a connected vehicle by giving drivers access to features that can only be customized and enabled through a connected services application, such as:
- Enhanced roadside assistance features
- Emergency assistance button and SOS calls
- Stolen vehicle recovery
- Vehicle health report
- Collision notifications
- Maintenance reminders
- Wi Fi hotspot
- Integrated streaming
- Audio multimedia capabilities (like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and other music subscription services)
- Integrations with smart devices like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and smartwatches
But despite these advanced features, many drivers are still unsatisfied with their connected services experience. According S&P Mobility and a 2023 survey by Smartcar, drivers are frustrated because of the price of connected services, a lack of education on how to use and maximize these features, and mobile applications that are not user-friendly. In fact, 26% of consumers don’t know if their automaker has connected services.
Maximizing the impact of connected services
The benefits of connected services are clear.
Automakers have done an excellent job at modernizing the vehicle experience and empowering drivers with access to vehicle telematics without any aftermarket hardware. But there are gaps in the software experience that cannot be tackled alone.
Drivers don’t just want to use vehicle telematics for on-demand vehicle services. They want to integrate their vehicles easily and securely into day-to-day activities and existing services without compromising personal information.
From car sharing apps like Turo to EV charging solutions like Optiwatt and predictive maintenance services like Bumper, automakers can provide added value for customers by having connected services unlock access to third-party apps and services beyond an automaker’s realm of expertise.
Smartcar is excited about a future of mobility where we can facilitate stronger relationships between automakers and third-party innovators. Collaboration within an open mobility ecosystem gives automakers the benefit of more engineering resources and niche expertise to dedicate toward the development of apps that appeal to customer demand — which in turn leads to more connected services subscriptions, higher driver satisfaction, and more vehicle sales.
Learn how Smartcar can help automakers build powerful digital experiences that prioritize the convenience and privacy of vehicle owners.
Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar.