State Farm's In-Drive telematics systemEnlarge Photo
In-Drive offers features that should be familiar to users of OnStar, SYNC, and other services -- features like roadside assistance, emergency response, and stolen vehicle location. In-Drive also provides alerts and reminders about auto maintenance, like the kinds we've seen on many smartphone apps.
According to State Farm, In-Drive works via "an easy-to-install device that works in most vehicles made after 1995". There's also a free smartphone app that gives subscribers access to many of the features offered by the in-car system. The service is competitively priced -- free for the first six months (excluding a $10 activation fee), with subsequent monthly charges ranging from $5 to $14.99, depending on the package customers choose.
In-Drive also allows drivers to tap into State Farm's Drive Safe & Save Program. Drive Save & Save is fairly similar to Progressive's Snapshot program, which monitors drivers' habits like hard braking, acceleration, and so on. Drive safely, and customers can save on their insurance rates. Drive poorly, and, well, it's time to cut back on Starbucks.
Will In-Drive prove to be a viable competitor to OnStar? Only time will tell. But as technology becomes smaller and cheaper to produce, telematics outfits will see competition from all over -- not only from big guns like GM, Ford, and State Farm, but from smaller start-ups, too.
One major impediment to State Farm's new program may be that in order to use In-Drive, it appears that customers will have to sign up for Drive Safe & Save, too. Those who think such monitoring programs are too intrusive will likely opt for other telematics services.
UPDATE: Kip Diggs from State Farm has confirmed that In-Drive is currently unavailable outside the Drive Safe & Save program -- meaning that if you want State Farm's telematics, you'll have to sign up for being monitored, too.