When Volkswagen engineers talk about a ‘connected car’, it is Car-Net that they are referring to. Volkswagen’s Car-Net brings the internet into the car. And as technology develops, Car-Net evolves too. Today Volkswagen announces an exciting new function of Car-Net: ‘Security & Service’.
Car-Net has steadily grown as new ways of connecting car, internet and mobile phone have developed. Specifically, Car-Net works with smartphones – mobile phones that are able to access the internet. Up to now the most widely used feature of Car-Net has been the easy synchronisation of phone calls, contacts and music from a smartphone to the car’s infotainment system. This is achieved via Apple’s CarPlay™, Google’s Android Auto™ or MirrorLink™, depending on the make of phone. Volkswagen was the first vehicle manufacturer to offer customers all three of these methods to connect their smartphone to their car.
Car-Net is now expanding with the addition of a suite of functions named ‘Security & Service’. ‘Security & Service’ takes the possibilities opened up by advances in technology and applies them to Volkswagen cars in an intuitive and efficient way.
Starting with the ‘Security’ element, perhaps the most important addition to Car-Net is the automatic accident notification. If the car is involved in an accident that results in an airbag being deployed or the seatbelts being tensioned then the car will automatically call the emergency services. It will also immediately send location information, including the direction of travel and the number of passengers in the car, to the emergency services. If necessary the call can be easily cancelled by the driver or passengers.
A further element of ‘Security & Service’ is the inclusion of a red button marked ‘SOS’. This can be pressed at any time to connect with the emergency services, for example if the driver sees an accident that they are not directly involved in. If there is no phone signal available then a red light is illuminated next to the button.
Next to the red ‘SOS’ button is a grey button marked with a spanner graphic. This is the ‘Breakdown Call’ button. In the event of a vehicle breakdown the customer pushes this button to send vehicle diagnostics to the Volkswagen Contact Centre. It also triggers a phone call so the driver can explain their problem. The ‘Breakdown Call’ button ensures the driver will get the right help and a rapid response.
Other elements of the ‘Security’ side of ‘Security & Service’ include the ability to use the Volkswagen smartphone app to check if the car’s windows and doors are closed, and that the doors are locked. If the alarm goes off the customer is notified via the app, and email.
An Area Alert can be set up, too, so that if the vehicle enters or leaves a designated geographical zone the owner is notified via the Volkswagen App. This can be further customised with the addition of up to ten different areas. A time window can be set for each area, so if the car leaves the zone within the selected time window then an alert is sent to the customer’s smartphone. Finally, a Speed Alert can be set so the customer is notified if the vehicle travels above a specified speed.
A third button completes the trio that make up the hardware element of ‘Security & Service’. This button features an ‘i’ graphic and can be pressed to call the Volkswagen Contact Centre. General enquiries can be made, which increases safety as the driver isn’t distracted from concentrating on the road.
The ‘Servicing’ element of ‘Security and Service’ is primarily focused on the car being able to report the servicing it requires to a pre-selected Volkswagen Retailer. The Retailer can then contact the customer directly to arrange a convenient time for the service work to be undertaken.
Also included is a regular Vehicle Health Report. This uploads notices of services due, or warnings displayed on the instrument cluster, to the Volkswagen server where it can be displayed when the customer logs in to the online Car-Net portal. Other useful information can be displayed, too, such as vehicle mileage or fuel level. This section of ‘Security & Service’ is particularly insightful for owners of hybrid and electric Volkswagens as it offers the ability to monitor the charging process and to adjust the time that charging starts and stops.
Further useful features include the recording of the car’s parking position, which can then be viewed on a smartphone via the Volkswagen app and on the Car-Net customer web portal. As mentioned above, the app can also display if the windows and doors are closed, and it enables the driver to switch on the headlights, hazard lights and sound the horn for a short duration. This is useful for locating the vehicle in a car park, although the customer needs to be within 100 metres of the vehicle to access this function.
A final feature is the Online Auxiliary Heater. The customer can turn the heater on or off via the Car-Net app or the online Car-Net portal. They can set a specific time for the heater to come on so the car is at an ideal temperature when a journey commences. This is available from June 2017.
Car-Net ‘Security & Service’ is now available to order on all Volkswagen Tiguans and is priced at £340 (RRP). It is fitted as standard to the Volkswagen Passat GTE and Passat Estate GTE, and to the recently updated Golf GTE and e-Golf. From the middle of 2017 it will be standard on the Performance Golfs and the higher trim levels of the Passat and Touran ranges. And it will be fitted as standard to the all-new Volkswagen Arteon.
Car-Net ‘Security & Service’ is one of three elements that complete the full Car-Net portfolio. The other two are ‘App-Connect’ and ‘Guide & Inform’.
‘App-Connect’ allows some smartphone apps to be accessed via the car’s infotainment touchscreen. For example, when a USB cable connects the car to the smartphone apps that support voice-activation, such as the music streaming service Spotify and the instant messaging element of Skype, can be accessed from the car’s touchscreen. Customers using MirrorLink™ can access eight Volkswagen-developed apps. ‘App-Connect’ is standard equipment on all Tiguans other than the Tiguan S. There are no further costs associated other than the cost of any mobile data.
Car-Net ‘Guide & Inform’ is focused on navigation and infotainment. It lets the driver send routes from their computer or laptop direct to the car. ‘Guide & Inform’ will then update the route depending on traffic levels, and will highlight branded points of interest along the way. It will also show petrol stations, local weather and news feeds on the infotainment touchscreen. All Volkswagen cars other than the up! and Touareg have App-Connect as an optional extra. And once installed, the customer only need pay the cost of mobile data used.