4G DRIVE

The future of the car is charging it overnight and buying it a data plan

Obsession
Getting There
Obsession
Getting There

Not only will your car soon be telling you it’s low on battery, you may have to top up its data, too.

US carmaker Chevrolet yesterday began offering an unlimited 4G plan for $20 per month. That fee will allow car owners and passengers to connect to the internet through an AT&T OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot that will be available across Chevrolet’s line of vehicles in the US. The General Motors brand claims to be the first carmaker to offer an unlimited plan.

In-car data use has surged in the seven years since Audi claimed to be the first automaker to offer an in-car wireless hotspot. It’s now available in dozens of car models—it comes standard for a year as part of buying a hi-tech Tesla electric car, for example, though you have to buy a separate data plan if you take your Tesla overseas on a road trip. (As more carmakers go electric, including GM’s flagship Chevy Volt, data plans are yet another way that cars become more like phones. Too bad the smartphone geniuses at Apple seem like they’re no longer making one.)

Chevrolet said its American car owners alone used 4 million GB of in-car Wi-Fi data, triple the amount they used in 2015, streaming the equivalent of more than 17.5 million hours of video.

Outside of automobiles, unlimited data is once more becoming the industry standard for wireless carriers. Verizon last month relaunched unlimited data plans to fend off its competitors.

Now the auto industry is realizing it needs to step up its game, as drivers opt for services that allow them to stream on the road. Rival carmaker Ford this week announced it would include Wi-Fi hotspots that support up to 10 devices in its newest SUVs. Both products may do well in Los Angeles and other cities where you spend more time in traffic than actually driving.

Read this next: A comprehensive list of devices I charge before leaving the house

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