September 24, 2020

What is a connected car?

Charlotte Kosche

Sr. Content Writer

In today’s world, everything is increasingly connected. Smartphones connect us to the rest of the world like never before. Our doorbells, TVs, and even water kettles are “smart” and can connect to the internet. Our voice assistants turn on the lights and give us the latest news update every morning.

So, it's no surprise that we are also seeing the rise of connected cars. While you might have heard about connected vehicles, it can be challenging to understand the world of connected cars and whether your own vehicle is already connected.

Don’t worry—this blog post has all the answers for you.

Connected cars can connect to the internet

A connected car is equipped with embedded telematics, a technology that allows it to connect to the internet. Like a smartphone, a connected vehicle has a 3G, 4G, or 5G cellular modem built into it.

Connected cars come with this built-in modem right from the factory, but you might have to activate it by signing up for your car manufacturer’s mobile app. Jump to the last section, “Is my car connected?” to learn more about this.

Why should cars connect to the internet?

Vehicles connect to the internet so that your phone and other apps and services can easily communicate with it. Each car manufacturer offers a mobile app that allows vehicle owners to check the location of their car, lock and unlock it, preheat the car, and get notified when they run low on gas—all directly from their phone.

In addition to that, connected car developer platforms like Smartcar allow vehicle owners to benefit from similar features while using other apps and services, like a car-sharing app, an EV charging app, or an auto insurance app.

Connected cars are not necessarily autonomous

That said, you might already have guessed that connected cars have nothing to do with autonomous vehicles. When you thought of the term “connected car” for the first time, you might have imagined autonomous cars that share the road and communicate with each other to avoid collisions. While we might get to that point in the years to come, and most autonomous cars will probably connect to the internet, today's connected cars have nothing to do with autonomous driving.

The connected car market is growing

Every year, there are more and more connected cars on the road both in the U.S. and globally. In the United States, 80% of all vehicles sold today are connected, and this number is growing. While there are 67 million connected cars on the road in the United States today, this number is expected to reach 116 million within the next five years. Undoubtedly, the connected car market is growing, and automakers as well as other mobility companies are rushing to make use of this opportunity.

Is my car connected?

So, how do you know whether your car is connected? If you have a connected vehicle, your car manufacturer will offer you access to their connected services app. A connected services app is a mobile app that allows you to locate and unlock your vehicle from your phone, preheat the battery, and more.

Each car brand offers its own connected services app. For example, Ford’s app is called FordPass, Chevrolet’s is called myChevrolet, and Jeep’s is called Uconnect. Even if you don’t have your car brand’s app downloaded on your phone, your vehicle might still be connected.

Head over to for a step-by-step guide to determine whether your car is eligible and set up your connected car account. If your car brand is not included on, check your car brand’s website or call them to ask whether your car is eligible.

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