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Ford's new device retrofits older cars to be mobile-connected

Ford is extending coverage of its mobile-connected cars to a wider range of consumers by offering a new device that retrofits older vehicles to be just as mobile-connected as modern ones.

The device is called the Ford SmartLink and it equips a vehicle with all of the mobile features and accouterments that it would receive if it were factory-produced to be mobile compatible. The move is an attempt by Ford to expand the amount of drivers who are able to tap into its expanded mobile-connected car services.

?Ford SmartLink will surprise and delight owners of recent model-year vehicles by adding some of today?s most popular connectivity features? said Stephen Odell, executive vice president of global marketing, sales and service. ?Offering it through our dealerships is another way to keep us connected with our customers and earn their loyalty.?

The connected car market has been steadily growing in the past few years, with a number of automakers kitting out their vehicles with more and more features that make cars smart.

Many of these cars offer customers the ability to access features of their car from their phones ? usually through a mobile application ? such as turning the car on and off, locating it and other standard functions.

It is in the best interest of automakers to get customers as accustomed to these connections as possible. But often they are available on only the most modern ? and expensive ? vehicles.

To remedy this, Ford is introducing a new device called the SmartLink that will retrofit their vehicles that do not have a mobile connection to become so.

The device works on any Ford vehicle manufactured after 2010 and updates them to be able to take advantage of all the mobile features enjoyed by owners of its newer and higher-end models.

With the device in place, car-owners can lock and unlock their cars, start the engine and get access to a Wi-Fi hotspot in their car.

FordPay customers
In addition to providing car-owners with a mobile connection to their car and the ability to lock and unlock it, giving more mobile connections also means potentially adding more customers to Ford?s network.

Just this month, Ford announced the launch of FordPay, an in-car mobile payment system.

Similar in-car payment systems have been tested by Honda (see story).

Others have simply partnered their vehicles? mobile network with other commercial options such as OnStar?s partnership with AtYourService (see story).

The manufacturer's FordPass system

It is no coincidence that just a few weeks after unveiling FordPay, the company has now given more customers than ever the ability to be connected to its mobile networks. 

With SmartLink in place, Ford has added a host of new potential customers to its network and gave FordPay a huge boost.

?From security to performance, we?ve conducted extensive testing and made a number of improvements to ensure Ford SmartLink enhances the customer experience for our owners,? said Raj Nair, executive vice president of global product development and chief technical officer of Ford. ?We are thrilled to offer this level of convenience and connectivity to our existing customers, extending the value of their vehicles and giving them just one more reason to love their Ford and Lincoln vehicles.?