OnStar is soooo 2007. Rather than building some kind of old school cell phone telematics system into its cars, Mini is going the hip, modern route for roadside assistance. Mini USA has collaborated with insurance company Allstate to create an Apple iPhone app (also available for some GPS-equipped Blackberries) for owners to automatically call for roadside assistance. When you install the app, you put in your vehicle ID number and select a photo of your car if you want.

The next time you realize that the trip computer's range estimate was a bit optimistic and you fall short of a petrol station, or you leave the lights on or hear that familiar thump-thump of a flat tire, just pull out your iPhone. Open the app, select the service you need and Allstate will immediately dispatch help to the coordinates provided by the phone's GPS system.

Of course, if you forgot to plug in your phone last night... well, two strikes and you're out. There's no word yet on whether the app can use the phone's accelerometer to detect the excess deceleration associated with an impact and call 911 for you, but that would be a neat trick. Check out the video demo and the official press release after the jump.

[Source: Mini USA]





PRESS RELEASE

MINI IS THE FIRST MANUFACTURER TO LAUNCH A MOBILE APPLICATION FOR ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE

MINI owners can now access roadside assistance with the touch of an icon

Woodcliff Lake, NJ – August 20, 2008... MINI USA announced today the introduction of a free app to MINI owners that allows access to roadside assistance with the touch of an icon. The new MINI Road Assist mobile application was developed by Allstate Roadside Services and is available for iPhone and select BlackBerry users. The app connects users to roadside assistance while automatically supplying the service provider with all relevant information about the vehicle, most importantly, its exact location.

"MINI owners appreciate technological innovation and will welcome the additional peace of mind that comes from having fast, easy access to the free roadside services provided during their warranty period," said Jim McDowell, Vice President MINI USA.

Whether it's for a battery boost or to replace a flat tire, the new MINI Road Assist app for iPhone and BlackBerry users puts control in the driver's hand – and handset. Perhaps the best part, it eliminates the need for lengthy conversations about vital vehicle information and location and jumps directly to sending help after a short call.

To begin using the app, MINI owners will need to download it to their iPhone or compatible BlackBerry device. Step-by-step instructions guide users to enter their Vehicle I.D. (VIN), name, address and other details – even uploading a photo of their MINI. When a MINI owner needs roadside help, they simply launch the app, select their service need and press the "call" button. Their user information, vehicle location and service need are all transmitted automatically to customer service representatives – saving valuable time to get them motoring again as quickly as possible.

This feature utilizes global positioning system (GPS) technology, pinpointing a caller's location to help customer service representatives identify the nearest available service provider and communicating their exact location. Once service is confirmed, the mobile app delivers the driver with the service provider's name, an estimated time of arrival and an automated service follows up to ensure the issue has been resolved.

"As the exclusive provider of roadside assistance for MINI USA and a number of other prestigious auto brands, Allstate Roadside Services is proud to launch this application designed to enhance the MINI owner's experience," said Patrick O'Brien, president of Allstate Roadside Services.

It's free to MINI owners and can be downloaded here: HYPERLINK "http://www.allstateroadsideservices.com/mini/" http://www.allstateroadsideservices.com/mini/

To access a video of the app and how it works, click the link:
HYPERLINK "http://www.youtube.com/miniusanews" http://www.youtube.com/miniusanews

All MINI USA owners have access to roadside assistance free of charge as long as the vehicle remains under warranty. Customers whose warranty has expired may still download the free app and use the roadside assistance for a fee set by the service provider.