Verizon Rolls Out $15/Month OnStar Rival, Will Work In Any 1996 Or Newer Vehicle

Transportation has evolved by leaps and bounds over the days of horseback riding, and so too has roadside assistance. Looking to take things a step further, Verizon announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit a connected vehicle service that will modernize roadside assistance in a similar fashion to OnStar.

It's called Verizon Vehicle and it will be available commercially in the second quarter of 2015 (expected in April). Verizon Vehicle consists of an OBD II reader device that you plug into your vehicle's under-dash diagnostic port (the same port that mechanics plug OBD readers into investigate your Check Engine light). This connects to a Bluetooth-enabled speaker that you clip to your visor.

Verizon Vehicle

Like OnStar, the visor-mounted hardware sports a series of buttons -- one for emergency assistance, another for making making phone calls, and one for requesting GPS directions. However, the functionality goes well beyond those three things.

If the Check Engine light comes on, you can be connected with an A.S.E. certified mechanic who will diagnose the problem, offer solutions, and even give you an estimate if repair or service is needed. And if you run out of gas or otherwise break down, the built-in GPS will pinpoint your exact location for a tow truck or other rescue vehicle to come to your aid.

There's also an accompanying smartphone app, which is free to download and install. The service, however, is subscription based -- if you pre-order, Verizon will waive the first month's fee. After that, you'll be billed $14.99 per month for the first vehicle, and $12.99 per month for each additional vehicle. Your subscription includes equipment (valued at $120), though you have to agree to a 2-year contract.

You can pre-order the service here.