Verizon Auto Share service to launch later this year

End users will load a smartphone or tablet app to access a vehicle

Verizon today announced a vehicle-sharing service that allows drivers to load an app on a smartphone or tablet to securely rent a car or truck.

The Verizon Auto Share service, to be available before the end of the year, doesn't mean Verizon will be renting vehicles to the public. Instead, Verizon will work with vehicle rental companies and other businesses to provide its 4G LTE network to connect drivers to vehicles securely through managed certificates in a process that is enhanced by consulting from Verizon's professional services team.

Pricing for the service hasn't been announced, but businesses will be charged monthly based on how many vehicles are connected and whether they are equipped with Wi-Fi capability and other add-ons, said Mike Toto, director of business development and strategic planning for Verizon's IoT Connected Solutions division.

"Auto Share will open areas of opportunity for Verizon," Toto said in an interview. "It's peer-to-peer sharing so you can rent what you want and when you want it."

The service could be used by rental companies as well as car dealerships, government-organized van pooling groups and even farming and construction equipment providers. Car sharing has been popularized in recent years by companies like Zipcar, but Toto said such companies aren't expected to be competitors to Verizon's service as much as they will be "more complementary."

The service is designed to save time by eliminating the need for an end user to rent a car through a car company agent. The end user uses the custom app to locate a vehicle nearby through GPS. Once at the vehicle, a QR reader on the smartphone is used to read the car's unique Vehicle Identification Number. The VIN is matched remotely in Verizon cloud servers with a password-protected identification for the driver, which enables Verizon to automatically unlock the car and allow the user to drive.

Secure certificates are stored in Verizon's enterprise cloud service to authenticate the sharing transaction. A telematics hub device will be installed in each vehicle running on Delphi Connect's Vehicle Interface Platform, Verizon said.

Verizon Auto Share will be demonstrated at ITS World Congress in Detroit this week.

Separately, at the Super Mobility Conference in Las Vegas this week, AT&T Mobile and Business Solution CEO Ralph de la Vega is expected to deliver a keynote address on Wednesday about AT&T's connected car service.

Major cellular carriers like AT&T and Verizon have latched onto various services like vehicle sharing and wirelessly connected car services in the past two years to take advantage of their high-speed cellular and related wireless networks that have cost billions of dollars to build. Carriers are always on the lookout for new revenue sources as competition grows and as wireless data demands mushroom.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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