eCall for retrofitting

eCall can be retrofitted using an OBD dongle

For several years now, eCall has been part of the equipment standard for new cars. There are several options for retrofitting this technology for old vehicles.

Since 2018, car manufacturers in the EU have been obliged to install the eCall automatic emergency call system in new car models. Accordingly, the rescue technology has already spread to a greater extent in Germany. At the same time, however, there are still many millions of cars on our roads that do not automatically call for help should the vehicle and its occupants have an accident. In the meantime, however, there are some technical retrofitting solutions on the market with which the eCall function can be brought into the car for little money. Variants are also available for motorcycles and e-bikes. If you have an accident on the way, you always get a better chance of faster and possibly even life-saving help with these variants.   

The most common solution at the moment are the so-called accident reporting plugs (UMS), which are offered by traffic clubs such as the ADAC or car insurers for little money. The basis for this solution is a small gadget for the 12-volt socket. On the back, this usually has a USB port to charge cell phones, which are essential for the eCall function. In order for the emergency call system to work, you need to connect a cell phone to the UMS via Bluetooth and activate a corresponding app. If there is an accident, sensors integrated in the EMS recognize this and signal it to the corresponding app on the driver's smartphone. The smartphone in turn provides an emergency agent with information on the severity of the accident, vehicle position and direction of travel. The agent will then try to contact the road user who has been involved in the accident. If this does not succeed, the appropriate local emergency services are informed. The costs for this service vary among motor vehicle insurers and also depend on the insurance tariff chosen. 

If you don't want an eCall retrofit solution from an insurer, you can alternatively install the so-called ODB dongle Pace in your car. In this way, the user receives a multifunctional tool including a logbook and fuel-saving trainer. First of all, the OBD connector, also known as a dongle, which costs 120 euros, is plugged into the corresponding interface in the car (usually below the steering wheel). If the small device detects an accident, as with the USM solution, a connection to a call center is automatically established with the aid of a mobile phone connected to the pace dongle, which informs the emergency services if necessary.  

In addition to solutions for cars, there are also variants specifically for motorcycles, such as the dguard system, which costs around 450 euros. In contrast to the smartphone-based solutions, a module with a permanently integrated SIM chip for the 2G network is installed in the vehicle. And unlike the other solutions, an emergency call is made directly to 112 instead of via a call center and therefore also with call priority. Another special feature of this permanently installed solution is the emergency call button on the handlebar, which also enables the emergency call to be activated manually. In addition, dguard can transmit other data such as speed or angle of inclination. As an additional function, this solution offers an electronic tour diary, a theft warning and a location function should the motorcycle be stolen. The purchase price includes a two-year license that costs around 30 euros a year thereafter. The buyer can install the dguard module in his motorcycle himself.  

Another eCall solution suitable for motorcycles and even pedelecs is offered by Bosch with its Help Connect system. In turn, motorcyclists need a smartphone and the Calimoto biker app for this system. The Help Connect function can then be activated via this, provided the user has booked the Help Connect offer as a monthly subscription for 5 euros or as an annual subscription for 40 euros. As soon as a package has been paid for, you can log into the Calimoto app with your personal “Help Connect” profile. From now on, the service is available to German customers around the clock in 11 European countries. The Cobi app offered by the Bosch e-bike division for pedelec users is also designed to incorporate the same Help Connect function.

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