San Diego-based Networkcar has launched an aftermarket vehicle-to-satellite telematics system -- tied in with vehicle onboard diagnostic (OBD-II) systems -- for which the company claims a number of advantages.
Networkcar's CAReader is about the size of a cellular phone and is said to be compatible with about 80 million 1996 and newer vehicles. At an initial cost of about $600 for the first year (presumably less later), CARreader provides the following features:
Vehicles with a DTC (emissions problem) will have a description of the trouble appear on the user's personalized Networkcar Web page.
Motorists will be advised about causes of temporary OBD-indicated faults, to help avoid fees and unnecessary repairs. The system monitors "pending DTCs, but users will not be notified until they become real, or 'hard' DTCs."
As the company's database expands, make/model/year pattern failure -- including short life component information -- will be "offered to various related parties." (Networkcar is not clear whether this includes the vehicle owner.)
A tie-in with California authorities is being negotiated that will permit automatic compliance with I/M (inspection/maintenance) emissions-test requirements, i.e. eliminating the need for the vehicle to be tested at an I/M station. The system automatically will monitor when all readiness codes have been set after repairs to meet the required 45-day limit on retesting.
The system can be linked with the subscriber's repair facility of choice.
The Networkcar system also provides a variety of other telematics features somewhat similar toCorp.'s OnStar system.
Although CAReader offers other useful functions, all of the emissions-related information comes from the vehicle itself -- and if auto makers would so-equip their vehicles, could be detailed on an instrument panel display rather than going to a third party and back to the motorist via a Web page.