Just about a month ago, Ford rolled out its FordPass Connect product across its seven-seater Everest, Transit, and the dual-cab Ranger. The US-based automaker will now make available in the Australian market their first modem-equipped cars you can control with a phone.
Ford promises that this is only the beginning as the company plans to extend the FordPass Connect technology as a standard feature to all car models in its lineup. According to the company, these three models are the start, and soon all models will bear this technology as each line is updated. While this technology is just getting to Australia, it has been around in other markets such as the USA.
How is it possible to control your car with your phone?
The modem fitted in these vehicles allows it to connect to your mobile device seamlessly. It enables basic functionality such as unlocking or locking your car, starting or stopping it, and reporting vital fluid levels. You may also locate your car with your phone using a freely available phone application.
Here are some other ways you can use the new functionality and control your car with the phone app.
- Receive maintenance notifications – the mobile app can be used to notify car owners of general maintenance requirements when minor issues arise
- Check fuel level – you may also check the fuel level in the tank with the app
- Adjust some settings – it can function to adjust & control climate heating/cooling
- Access data & information – it can monitor vehicle status (e.g. tyre pressure and trip mileage), check live traffic updates, get vehicle health alerts and location data
Ford is looking to switch things up by enabling over-the-air updates and extending the technology to allow the company to sell new (premium) features to pre-existing customers.
Christine Wagner from Ford explained that the services would be present in all Ford cars. The exception would be the remote start service, which would be only present in an automatic because manual gearboxes don’t support the service. According to Wagner, the technology that enables owners to control their car with phones is in line with the company’s new model release strategy.
Which networks will the SIM use?
The SIM installed in the modem will freely roam the available networks and choose the provider with the most reliable network signal. It will be able to operate on either Optus, Telstra, or Vodafone networks.
When using navigation with live traffic, for instance, the onboard sat-nav will be able to keep working even when the mobile device falls out of the specific range. However, there has to be at least one mobile provider (from Australia’s major three) that has a signal.
How much will the services cost?
Most of these services will be available for no cost at all, including the feature in the vehicle’ ticker price. The automaker will also cover the modem in the warranty-specified period.
The live traffic function will be part of the features offered gratis for three years. After this period, customers will be asked to subscribe to continue enjoying the service. It is not yet clear at this point how much the service will cost, but that will be determined soon.
A basic version of the Ford mobile application will be offered to car owners with older vehicles that lack the modem. Through this app, car owners can check & confirm their service schedule, locate a dealership near them and book a service.
What other brands offer cars that you can control with a phone?
Currently, none of the Ford Ranger and Ford Everest's rivals is equipped with this technology, giving Ford an edge in the industry. This technology has, however, featured in brands like Mercedes Benz, BMW, and Audi. Hyundai’s Auto Link app works similarly. It is standard on some Hyundai models, which allows car owners to control their car with a phone, including engine start/stop, climate control adjustment, and lock/unlock doors.
Tesla also has a similar program that has been around for a while now. It will be great to see how this FordPass technology fares as connected apps become prevalent by the day in the automotive industry. We expect more automakers coming out with cars that you can control from a phone, so watch out for your favourite car brand!
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