Ford device to boost connectivity in its models without modems

A Ford logo is pictured at a car dealership in Monterrey, Mexico, November 9, 2016. Picture taken November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co said on Friday it would sell a plug-in device to enable features like remote start, security alerts, a Wifi hotspot and vehicle location assistance on 2010-2016 model year Ford and Lincoln cars.

The device would compete with similar products sold by other companies, including devices from AT&T and Verizon that add a Wifi hotspot to older model cars.

The SmartLink technology in the Ford device allows models that do not come pre-equipped with a modem to be more connected, enabling doors to be locked and unlocked remotely and supplying engine management alerts, the company said in a statement.

The after-market device, which plugs into the car’s OBD II port below the steering wheel, would be sold at dealerships beginning this summer. Ford did not disclose a price.

All U.S. cars built after 1996 model year are mandated by law to have an OBD II port, which has historically been used for onboard diagnostics.

Carmakers worry third-party devices can interfere with their own embedded systems, introduce security bugs, and exploit data they say is their own, such as the car’s health or miles driven.

Reporting By Alexandria Sage; Editing by Andrew Hay