Volkswagen announced the roll-out of its next-generation Car-Net connected app Wednesday, offering additional no-charge features along with new categories of subscription services.
For 2020, Volkswagen says its Car-Net app and services offer faster response times than previous versions, which alone may be an incentive for customers who are looking to trade up. Going forward, VW will break down its connected services into four categories: Remote Access, Safe & Secure, Hotspot, and Guide & Inform.
Remote Access is the core of VW's Car-Net suite. This feature set includes remote start (on VW models with this function enabled), remote vehicle locking/unlocking, remote alarm (honk/light flash), parking location tracking, and a remote status display, which shows fuel level, odometer information, and door/window status.
Owners with factory navigation can also send destinations, points of interest, and parking locations directly to their cars from their phones. Later this year, they will also be able to utilize compatible smart home devices to access some features without having to utilize the app itself. Remote Access also includes vehicle health reports and "babysitter" features to monitor vehicle behavior and use remotely.
Volkswagen is also integrating with auto insurance providers to supply behavioral data which could save some drivers money. This feature operates strictly on an opt-in basis, so privacy-minded individuals need not be concerned. Remote Access services are standard on most 2020 models with remote access services, and will be free for five years.
The Safe & Secure category is subscription-based. Expanding on VW's goal of creating a suite similar to GM's OnStar, this category comprises information assistance and emergency services features, such as crash detection, vehicle theft alert and on-demand, operator-powered assistance. Safe & Secure requires a $99/year subscription.
The Hotspot feature is exactly what it sounds like, enabling internet access for up to four personal electronic devices. Hotspot will be a particularly attractive option for existing Verizon Wireless customers with unlimited data plans; they will be able to add their Volkswagens as an additional line. Non-Verizon customers have access to a prepaid plan for $20 per month.
Guide & Inform is available even without a subscription for owners of VWs with factory navigation systems, though it does require SiriusXM Travel Link. It allows owners to access traffic reports, fuel prices, sports scores, movie times, and weather reports.
Car-Net will come standard on most 2020 Volkswagens.