We at AUTO Connected Car News are fortunate to see the history of connected cars in action. It all started with the desire to help save lives and has grown into making many valuable connections for drivers and automakers.
AUTO Connected Car News’ History of Connected Cars
In the late 1990’s cars began to be connected wirelessly to other sources primarily for safety. At first cars were equipped with cellular connections for emergency notifications. Starting in the new millennium connections increased for safety, convenience, remote features and ultimately connecting to smartphones. In this decade starting in 2010, increased connectivity opened up opportunities for advanced safety driving features, parking/summon apps, self-driving, remote functions, and vulnerabilities for hackers.
The Early Years, The Late 1990’s
In the early years of telematics’ connected car services, the features were primarily for notifications of crashes to emergency responders, locating the vehicle and roadside assistance.
1996 The analog cellular OnStar system was announced. When air bags deploy, they system connects to an OnStar Advisor who relays the information to emergency responders.
1997 Mercedes-Benz introduced the first wireless key fob, called, Key-less Go” for the 1998 W220 S Class.
1997 BMW launched BMW Assist telematics services.
1998 GM improved the OnStar service with factory installed models that allow for hands -free calling and voice recognition.
1999 Mercedes-Benz launches Tele Aid telematics program with emergency response roadside assistance and locating of stolen vehicles.
In this decade services that are launched include diagnostics, advanced navigation, web connections, stolen vehicle slow-down and smartphone apps with limited remote features.
2000 TeleAid on the Mercedes-Benz model S features remote door unlock.
2001 OnStar began providing real-time traffic information and remote door unlock with its fourth generation with close to 8 million interactions.
2001 Remote diagnostics hardware for autos launched by Continental.
2003 OnStar GM Goodwrench remote diagnostic service becomes available.
2003 Continental offers devices for vehicle health and turn-by-turn navigation through digital network access device.
2005 OnStar Turn-by-turn Navigation launches.
2007 Continental introduced data-only telematics, also know as“Machine-to-Machine telematics,” the basis for the majority of today´s telematics modules, which are now delivered worldwide.
2007 BMW Assist is launched in US with four free years of service included in vehicle purchase.
June 2007 – The first iPhone is launched.
2007 (Fall) Stolen vehicle slow-down services become available from OnStar.
2008 August Dodge Chrysler and Jeep uconnect web, powered by Autonet Mobile, delivers continuous Internet connectivity with 3G Wi-Fi mobile hotspots, device must be installed by a dealer.
2008 October – First Android smartphone launched.
2009 August BMW claims it is the first automaker to integrate iPhone services into a vehicle.
2009 November Mercedes-Benz launches mbrace that allows owners to connect via iPhone and BlackBerry with remote door lock or unlock and vehicle locating.
2010 & After More Apps, Traps & Hacks
In the 2010 decade there are more connections to cars through multiple devices. The development of electric-only vehicles spurs the need for remote apps. Some cars have over-the-air software updates. New services require more connections and more data. The first cars with V2I and V2X technology appear. The proliferation of apps and remote services allows for new forms of hacking. There are major news stories of different kinds of hacks on popular vehicle models. The most frightening are remote hacks where hackers can control the vehicle from outside the car out of sight.
2010 January OnStar Mobile App revealed at 2010 CES. App allows Chevy Volt owners to set charge time, but also unlocks doors.
2010 December Nissan LEAF launched with CarWings app for iPhone that allows access to charging, driving range and climate control.
2011 August Nissan LEAF apps launched for BlackBerry and Android.
2011 August OnStar trials FamilyLink it locates family members and sends text and email alerts.
2012 January Mercedes-Benz mbrace adds Facebook,Yelp, web browser, geofencing, alerts and the ability to share location with friends.
2012 April New York Auto Show, Audi 7 premiers with a 3G web connection with Wi-Fi hotspots, and Google Earth navigation.
2012 June First Tesla Model S introduced. It features 3G connectivity and the ability to have software updated over-the-air.
2013 November Audi A3 offers first vehicles with 4G LTE data connectivity in Europe.
2014 June 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspots are available for most 2015 GM vehicles in the U.S.
2014 July Kaspersky Lab and IAB, published their First Annual Connected Cars Study. After analyzing BMW’s ConnectedDrive system they found several places for possible attacks.
2014 October Telsa S Models are equipped with hardware that will enable the Autopilot features after a future software update.
2015 January A security vulnerability in BMW’s Connected Drive system allowed researchers from ADAC (Allgemeine Deutsche Automobil-Club) to imitate BMW servers and send remote unlocking instructions to vehicles. A security patch followed.
2015 February. U.S. television show 60 Minutes shows a 2009 Impala hacked by DARPA. They are able to remotely brake and disallow the driver from braking through an outdated OnStar system.
2015 April World premiere Apple Watch control of functions of BMW i models.
2015 April 8/04/2015 The European Parliment in Strasbourg announced that in 2018 new cars and light vehicles will have to automatically alert rescue services when a vehicle crashes. The service is called eCall.
2015 July Mercedes-Benz Remote Parking Pilot app allows the driver to control parking from outside the vehicle by smartphone via Bluetooth.
2015 July Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek perform a remote hack of a Jeep Cherokee. Using the zero-day exploit the hackers at a laptop computer 10 miles away, sent commands to the Jeep. They were able to control the brakes, radio, windshield wipers, air conditioning and accelerator sending Wired’s contributor, Andy Greenberg into a ditch.
2015 August Sammy Kamkar creates a device that can intercept BMW Remote, Merecedes Benz mbrace, uconnect and Viper connected car remote iPhone iOS apps.
2015 September Frankfort , Merecedes-Benz reveals the new E-Class with first production model with Car-to-X communication.
2015 October Telsa Motors releases over-the-air software update with self-driving technology for Autopilot.
2016 January Telsa releases update with the Summon feature to control parking from outside the vehicle using an app or key fob.
2016 February – Researcher Troy Hunt used a web browser to hack into Nissan controls through the LEAF Nissan Connect app. The team was able to access the battery status, turn on heated seats and activate climate control.
2016 March ADAC found 24 models to be vulnerable through keyless entry and smartphone apps. Researchers were able to unlock and start the vehicles.
2016 May OnStar Proactive Alerts launched. It alerts the driver for service when starter motor, fuel pump and 12-volt battery anomalies are detected.
2016 August Audi America announced the first V2I technology, called Traffic Light Information for select 2017 Audi Q7, A4 and A4 allroad models in the fall.
2016 Android Auto connects to Android phones and Apple CarPlay connecting to iPhone begin being installed by automakers in vehicles.
2016 August – Miller and Valasek break into Jeep Cherokee at Black Hat USA controlling acceleration, brakes, steering and electronic parking brake at highway speeds with a connected laptop computer.
2016 October BMW Connected Version 3.0 for iOS adds Alexa , first mile navigation, vehicle service alerts and an Apple Watch app. BMW Connected Version 1.0 for Android is available.
2016 November Hyundai announces it is the mass release of Alexa skills for its Blue Link apps.
2016 November Mobile Security firm Promon demonstrated that because of lack of security in the Tesla smartphone app, cyber criminals could take control, track and locate the car in real-time, unlock and drive the car away. The hack was achieved by enticing the owner through a free meal offers to download an app with malicious code. Lars Lunde Birkeland later noted that the attack could be used against any remote Android app.
2017 Mobile World Congress, Giesecke & Devrient showcase solutions that can stop security threats before they happen.(If they announce a product add the product name.)
2017 May Volvo announced that it is working with Google to develop the next generation of its in-car infotainment and connectivity solution based on Android.
2018 October V2X DSRC for smart intersections demoed by Honda.
2018 December Samsung, Qualcomm & VZW Demo 5G Data / Samsung & KOTSA agree to test V2X and first 5.8 GHz C-V2X tested.
2019 February MWC2019 5G C-V2X is ready to hit the road to speed NR-V22X.
2020 September Audi USA, American Tower, Qualcomm & VDOT deploy C-V2X to Protect Work Zones..
2020 January Audi Drivers in Virginia Can Be Warned of Work Zones by C-V2X.
2020 July Polestar 2 is the first car in the world to feature an infotainment system powered by Android Automotive OS.
2020 October C-V2X Demoed by 5GAA in Georgia.
2021 March Android Automotive powers infotainment for Volvo.
2021 May C-V2X from Qualcomm & Audi helps make school zones safer in Georgia.
2021 July NGA 911 and Roadside Telematics Corp. partner for to enables increased situational awareness for first responders nationwide.
2021 August Qualcomm intros C-V2X for Spoke Platform for Cyclists and VRUs.
2022 March 5GAA Trials of 5G V2X in Virginia in Jeep with Verizon + MEC.
2022 CarPlay is available in over 600 vehicle models. Android Auto is available in over 500 models.
Anything else? Please comment below with date, connected car innovation and source if available and we will add it to history in the making.
3 thoughts on “AUTO Connected Car News’ Connected Car History and Timeline”
In 2004, Omniwav Mobile (now WAAV, Inc.) made the first 3G cellular router for moving vehicles. WAAV still makes cellular routers for vehicles today. Also, they pioneered the first multiple-connection cellular router with two different carriers simultaneously in 2008.
Good idea what month was the 3G cellular router released? Do you know the model number?
Lynn, thanks for your reply. It looks like the cellular router was called the “Omniwav Mobile Hotspot” although internally the model name was the “Omni11”. While it was at customer sites at the end of 2004, it was only announced publicly in January 2005 according to old press releases. The “WavBoard EV1” was an upgraded model that was released in August 2005. Thanks again for your work on Connected Car information – vehicle connectivity is what WAAV still does today.