When General Motors debuted OnStar in 1996, some folks weren't sure what to make of it. Sure, having an assistant on hand in case of an accident sounded like a good idea, but paying a monthly subscription seemed expensive. And what about privacy? How could users be sure they weren't being watched?
Nearly 20 years down the road, OnStar has become a huge profit center for GM and something that new-car buyers expect to see when they're kicking the tires. And that doesn't just go for GM customers: in-car assistance systems have proliferated, becoming selling points for shoppers in every showroom.
For several years, Volkswagen and other automakers licensed OnStar for use on their vehicles. But now, VW has created a system of its very own: Car-Net. It's not the best name we've ever heard, but its list of features is very impressive. Apart from the usual crash notifications and roadside assistance, some of our fave Car-Net items include:
- Last Parked Location, which should help mall-goers locate their VW in crowded lots. Making use of a mobile app, it sends a map of a car's last parked location to the driver's phone.
- Remote Vehicle Status, which allows owners to check the status of door locks, drop-tops, trunks, and more on their smartphone or via the Car-Net website.
- Service Appointment Scheduling, which removes some of the pain of service appointments by reminding owners when it's time to roll into the dealership and facilitating appointments.
Also nifty: most of Car-Net's features can be accessed in the car (via an overhead console), on smartphones (via the aforementioned Car-Net app, compatible with Android and iOS handsets), and in browser windows (at the Car-Net online portal). Video walkthroughs of most features are available on the Car-Net YouTube page.
According to a press release Car-Net will debut on select Beetle, CC, Eos, Jetta, Passat, and Tiguan vehicles during the 2014 model year. Pricing is $17.99 per month, with discounts for one-year, two-year, and three-year prepaid subscriptions.
For more on Car-Net, check out our colleagues at Motor Authority.