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Delphi and Verizon partner on car tracking, remote unlocking

Announced at CES 2013, the Delphi Connected Car will let car owners track their vehicle, get vehicle diagnostics, and remotely lock and unlock the doors.

Delphi Connected Car
Connecting to a car's OBD2 port, this device enables remote functions and car tracking through a smartphone app. Delphi

Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify the differing roles between Delphi and Verizon, and the name of the service.

LAS VEGAS--With a black box the size of a pack of playing cards plugged into a car's OBD2 port, Delphi gives owners a variety of control and information features, from tracking to remotely locking and unlocking the doors. Delphi partnered with Verizon to offer the Vehicle Diagnostics device and its associated Connected Car service, which emulates many of the features available from modern telematics services.

After plugging the Delphi Vehicle Diagnostics device into a car's OBD2 port, which is usually located under the dashboard, a car owner will be able to download an app or use a Web portal, giving him a wide variety of control and information features through Delphi Connected Car services.

The device includes a CDMA data connection to Verizon's cell network, along with Bluetooth. Connected to the OBD2 port, a standardized feature of any car built in 1996 or after, it reads vehicle codes and supports some control features. The device also contains a GPS chip, so can report its location through the Verizon data connection.

Features on the associated smartphone app that owners will find immediately useful read and interpret any error codes, things that might lead to a check engine warning light. The app can show the car's current fuel level, if the car supports that functionality, and other vehicle data, such as engine temperature.

Making use of the devices GPS chip and subsequent car location information, parents can get a warning when the car exceeds certain speeds or the engine rpms go over a certain level. Likewise, car owners can indicate geographical boundaries for the car, and get notified if someone drives the car beyond the approved range.

Particularly cautious parents can also initiate real-time tracking of the car, and view its progress on a map. That feature can also be used for stolen vehicle recovery. The app includes a 911 speed dial, so owners can alert police to the location of a stolen vehicle.

As a convenience feature, the app emulates the functions of an owner's key fob, such as remove lock and unlock, and car start. But unlike the fob, the connected nature of the device lets owners use these features from almost anywhere in the world. And when the car is deep in a parking garage, away from data connectivity, the Bluetooth connection allows the remote door unlock to work from short distances.

Verizon and Delphi partnered on the Vehicle Diagnostics device, with Delphi maintaining the Connected Car services and Verizon offering the device to its customers. The price has not been disclosed as of yet, but it will come with two years of data connectivity.