LOS ANGELES, November 24, 2015 — This year’s Connected Car Expo (CCE) declared the long-term intermarriage of in-car and smartphone technologies for apps and services that go way beyond Uber, Lyft and OEM vehicle infotainment systems. Here’s a list of the best digital transportation lifestyles products and services found at 2015’s CCE show.
Everyone seems to love how technology and cars are coming together. GPS, smartphones, apps and in-car tech are making transportation easier and certainly more fun. But what is really happening in the connected car space?
On the floor of this year’s CCE, we set out to discover the answers. Frankly, we were surprised to find an emerging industry in its infancy that’s not always quite ready for prime media time. Still, we discovered these five startup companies are bringing much-needed tech to your daily drives:
Do you have an older car that’s not at all connected? Mojio bridges the no connection gap in your 1996 model car or newer for just $150. Mojio’s aftermarket connectivity product is different because it does not run on Bluetooth. Founded in 2012, Mojio claims it is the “leading open platform for connecting cars” by employing “cutting-edge technology including telematics-enabled automotive devices, a comprehensive open API and a growing suite of mobile apps and services.”
What does all that mean to car owners? It means that you can easily install the tiny-sized Mojio device in your older model car to get “accurate, near real-time information about what’s happening under the hood and behind the wheel.” For example, drivers can get engine diagnostic information sent directly to their email or smartphone. Can’t remember where you parked your car? Mojio’s always-on GPS pinpoints where your car is parked on Google maps. This device even has money-saving implications when it comes to your monthly insurance bill as you can allow Mojio to track your daily driving habits. The information provided directly from your car can be the “evidence” you need to lower your insurance costs. The initial purchase provides one year of complimentary cellular service from AT&T (and only $4.99 a month the second year.) www.moj.io
Getaround isn’t new to Bay Area residents (San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley) as well as those in Chicago, Portland and Wash. D.C. Called a “peer-to-peer car sharing community,” Getaround allows car owners to rent out their car from hours to days and even weeks. The app lets car renters locate and unlock any “shared” car right from their smartphone, communicate with the owner and pay for this rent-by-the-hour service. Getaround “captures real-time GPS data, trip information and driving behaviors” using cellular data, remote diagnostics, wireless and Bluetooth technologies.
So how does it work? Getaround “members” check on their digital device for nearby cars for rent by the hour. Need a tiny smart car to ensure the best parking or seeking a Tesla to impress a date? With thousands of models available, it’s easy to find a “match” on Getaround. Great for urbanites who need a quick transportation solution or for tourists, Getaround also provides extra income (up to thousands of dollars in some cases) for car owners to offset the high cost of car ownership. For owners, the service also has built-in safety features one would need when sharing your car with strangers (like auto lock, ignition immobilization and real-time safety notifications). www.Getaround.com
Don’t want to pay for AAA membership because you rarely need roadside service? Consider HONK. The HONK app lets you order up towing and other roadside assistance services right on your smartphone via the HONK app. Available 24/7 and in all 50 states on both iOS and Android apps, HONK has no membership fees.
Drivers just pay for the services they use and nothing more. Plus, HONK claims it has partnered with more than 35,000 roadside assistant providers with an estimated wait time of just 15-30 minutes as GPS location makes it easy for tow truck drivers to find you and your broke down car. Prices start at just $49 for emergency services like flat tires, lock outs, dead batteries and towing. www.honkforhelp.com
Need a safe and reliable rideshare solution to carpool your kids when you can’t? HopSkipDrive marries high safety standards with an Uber-like app and driving service for your most precious prodigy. The company only hires drivers who have been childcare workers for at least five years. Drivers are also put through an extensive background check including fingerprinting. www.hopskipdrive.com
Deployed last week by Vision Fleet, which has the largest public electric vehicle (EV) fleet in the country, Evercar has been “designed specifically for on-demand drivers who work for companies like Uber, Lyft, Instacart and Postmates.” Now, drivers pay a flat hourly fee (as low as $5!) to rent a zero emissions Nissan Leaf so as to avoid the expense of a monthly payment, insurance, maintenance or repairs. Evercar’s 425-car fleet is available so far in Indianapolis, Atlanta and Colorado. www.myevercar.com
Car tech is just getting better and better for drivers, the environment, parents and those who only want to rideshare or rent cars once in awhile. And while these startups may or may not make it long term in this highly competitive digital transportation market, they certainly bring a more affordable, more safe and more fun driving experience to those who are ready to hitch their car with their mobile tech in this exciting digital age.