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Volvo On Call may tie cars to dealers

Volvo is to launch an integrated live diagnostics system next year that will allow a car to call for help from a roadside breakdown and eventually book its own servicing.

The move could help to tie-in cars to Volvo's dealer network for servicing and accident repair work.

Volvo On Call links the car's on-board diagnostics with an integrated GSM telephone with built-in GPS unit for satellite navigation.

The Volvo On Call button on the integrated mobile phone puts a driver in contact with a call centre operator who has access to the car data, GPS-satellite tracking, and direct connections to emergency services.

As well as servicing convenience, the car will alert the call centre if an accident has occurred or a break in is attempted. If an airbag or the belt tensioners deploy, the centre is automatically alerted.

The system will be available for the Volvo S80, S60 and V70 for around £3,000, but a spokesman was unsure about ongoing service costs. “The launch may not feature the linked servicing facility in the first instance, but it is planned quite soon,” he said.

Maintenance charges to keep the system up and running could be a crucial factor as it could tie vehicles to Volvo dealerships for servicing outside the usual warranty period.

“This is an unknown quantity at the moment. We are simply trying to offer the ultimate in customer care packages,” said the spokesman.

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