Volkswagen is linking its dealer network directly with customers’ cars with the offer of a free telematics service for its new and used car customers.
The new VW Connect service will give drivers access to information about their car, but will also provide VW dealers with a direct link to diagnostics information and the ability to call to book a service or provide assistance if a customer has opted in.
Connect can also alert dealers when a warning light is illuminated on a customer’s car. The app will also explain what the warning light means.
Connect is available for free for any retail, fleet or approved used car customer, as well as any current VW owner that has a model built after 2008 (excluding Touareg and Phaeton due to compatibility issues).
VW pointed out that “any personal data which is processed from Connect is subject to applicable data protection laws and will not be sold to third parties”.
Customers that want Connect can visit their local dealership to get it fitted for free “in under 10 minutes”.
Connect can then be activated after downloading the VW Connect mobile smartphone app.
With the dataplug and the app linked together through Bluetooth, the car will then send the user’s smartphone a burst of information at the end of each journey.
VW said all functionality from Connect is available for free, forever and it will continue to develop the app with new features.
From the start of next year, the app will continue to be free but VW is still deciding if it will then charge a “nominal fee” for the data-plug. If VW does decide to charge, the price is expected to be under £50.
Drivers and dealers can transfer the Connect data-plug to any other compatible VW.
David McMillan, Volkswagen’s digital service product Manager, said: “Connect brings the information that is already available within the car to the customer’s smartphone.
“We want to encourage customers to download the app and enjoy the benefits that it brings.”
Connect is compatible with any smartphone running Android 5.0 and beyond, or iOS 8.0 and beyond.
A trips function can record information about each journey, including the miles driven and the average fuel consumption measured in miles per gallon.
This works with the fuel monitor to give a figure for the cost of each journey by comparing the miles-per-gallon figure with the cost of the fuel in the car. That information can be downloaded from the app to a computer for those looking to process expenses for mileage.
As well as understanding how much fuel has been used on a journey, the dataplug will send information to the connected smartphone about the way the car was driven. This data can then be used to give driving style advice to help save money on fuel.
Drivers can win trophies related to safe and efficient driving, as well as unlock new tasks and compare their scores with other VW drivers on a leader board.
The fuel level on the car can be checked remotely and Connect can also say when the car’s next service is due.
When the car is due for a service, it will automatically alert the driver through the Connect app. If set up to do so it will also contact the customer’s nominated VW dealer, who will then call the driver to arrange a service. Customers can opt out of this function if they want to.
Additionally, if a warning light is illuminated on the dashboard, Connect will pass this information to the dealer, who can then call the customer to discuss the car’s problem. The app will also explain what the warning light means.
If the customer needs assistance, for example if they have broken down, they can use Connect to call their preferred roadside assistance service.
The assistance call function also provides a link to VW customer services so the driver can ask any questions they may have about their VW. Connect also records the exact location of a car when it’s parked so it can be easily located again.