A Brief History of Car Connections

30th June 2017

A Brief History of Car Connections

In the late 1990s 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 and convenience, and also included remote features and ultimately connections to smartphones.

During the same period, G+D Mobile Security started creating solutions for securing connected cars. From around 2010, increased connectivity opened up opportunities for advanced safety driving features, parking/summon apps, self‐driving and remote functions.

The Early Years, The Late 1990s

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.


The analog cellular OnStar system was announced. When air bags deploy, their systems connect to an OnStar Advisor who relays the information to emergency responders.


Mercedes‐Benz introduced the first wireless key fob called “Key‐less Go” for the 1998 W220 S Class. BMW launched BMW Assist telematics services.


GM improved the OnStar service with change to factory‐installed models that allow for hands‐free calling and voice recognition.


Mercedes‐Benz launches its TeleAid telematics program with emergency response roadside assistance and locating of stolen vehicles.

The 2000s

In this decade services that are launched include diagnostics, advanced navigation, web connections, stolen vehicle slow‐down and smartphone apps with limited remote features.

TeleAid on the Mercedes‐Benz model S features remote door unlock.


OnStar began providing real‐time traffic information  and remote door unlock with its fourth generation with close to 8 million interactions.­­

Remote diagnostics hardware for autos launched by Continental.


OnStar GM Goodwrench remote diagnostic service becomes available.

Continental offers devices for vehicle health and turn‐by‐turn navigation through digital network access device.


OnStar Turn‐by‐turn Navigation launches.


Stolen vehicle slow‐down services become available from OnStar.

The first iPhone is launched.

BMW Assist is launched in US with four free years of service included in vehicle purchase.

Continental introduced data‐only telematics, also known as“Machine-to-Machine telematics,” the basis for the majority of today´s telematics modules, which are now delivered worldwide.


First Android smartphone is launched.

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


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

Nissan LEAF launched with CarWings app for iPhone that allows access to charging, driving range and climate control.

OnStar Mobile App revealed at 2010 CES. App allows Chevy Volt owners to set charge time, but also unlocks doors.


OnStar trials FamilyLink, it locates family members and sends text and email alerts.

Nissan LEAF apps launched for BlackBerry and Android.


Mercedes‐Benz mbrace adds Facebook,Yelp, web browser, geofencing, alerts and the ability to share location with friends.

New York Auto Show, Audi 7 premiers with a 3G web connection with Wi‐Fi hotspots, and Google Earth navigation.

First Tesla Model S introduced. It features 3G connectivity and the ability to have software updated over‐the‐air.


Audi A3 offers first vehicles with 4G LTE data connectivity in Europe.


4G LTE Wi‐Fi hotspots are available for most 2015 GM vehicles in the U.S.

Tesla S Models are equipped with hardware that will enable the Autopilot features after a future software update.


A security vulnerability meant ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil‐Club) researchers could imitate BMW servers and remotely unlock vehicles.

The European Parliment announced new cars and light vehicles will have to automatically alert rescue services when a vehicle crashes in 2018. It‘s named eCall.

Mercedes‐Benz Remote Parking Pilot app allows the driver to control parking from outside the vehicle.

Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek a remotely hack a Jeep Cherokee – from a computer 10 miles away. They control brakes, radio, windshield wipers and accelerator.

Sammy Kamkar creates a device that can intercept BMW Remote, Mercedes‐Benz mbrace, Uconnect and Viper connected car remote iPhone iOS apps.

Merecedes‐Benz reveals the new E‐Class with first production model with Car‐to‐X communication.

Tesla Motors releases over‐the‐air 7.2 software update with self‐driving technology for Autopilot.


Hacks reveal numerous vulnerabilities for various models enabling hackers to take over auto functions, even drive them away.

Tesla releases 7.1 with the Summon feature to control parking from outside the vehicle.

Audi America announced V2I technology (Traffic light information) for select 2017 Audi models.

BMW Connected Version 3.0 for iOS adds Alexa, first mile navigation, vehicle service alerts and an Apple Watch app. BMW Connected 1.0 for Android is available.


G+D Mobile Security becomes a trusted eSIM management partner for BMW and their Connected Drive Services.

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