Hands-on with Volkswagen’s DataPlug and new app – How it works

Volkswagen South Africa recently launched its WeConnect Go app and DataPlug – an add-on device which relays vehicle information from your car to your smartphone.

The app and plug were previously available with the T-Cross but now come standard with new VW models from the Polo Comfortline and above.

It can also be fitted as an optional add-on for most older VW models from 2008 onwards, with the exception of Vivo vehicles.

The device – which is around the size of a large flash drive – connects to the onboard diagnostics (OBD) plug of the car and uses Bluetooth to transmit data to the WeConnect Go app.

This provides Volkswagen owners with an overview of vehicle information and readings, as well as the ability to automatically record and track trips, evaluate their driving style, and schedule service appointments.

We decided to put the data plug and app to the test with a 2014 Polo sedan connected to a Samsung Galaxy A70 smartphone.

After downloading the WeConnect Go app from the Google Play Store, we used its service provider location tool to arrange for a booking for a data plug fitment.

The app provided the telephone and email details of the appropriate persons to contact at approved workshops and after confirming our model was eligible for the add-on, a service consultant phoned and arranged for a fitment the day after our request.

Installation time and price

Upon arrival at our chosen workshop – the Bidvest McCarthy Volkswagen dealership in Menlyn – we were directed to the consultant we had made the booking with.

After we took him to our Polo, he removed the device from its box and proceeded to insert it into the OBD2 plug located to the right side of the steering wheel under the dash, taking less than two minutes to do so.

The process also didn’t require the removal of any panels or parts, or the need to apply adhesive of any kind.

We then had to open the app and follow a series of instructions to link the data plug with our smartphone, which also involved entering the PIN provided on the side of its box.

After turning the key in the ignition to the “on” position, we hit “Establish Connection” and around 10 seconds later, the connection had been made.

The data plug was priced at R915.40, with no charges accrued for labour.

Below are images of the data plug, its packaging and the initial connection process on the app.

Available functions

Once the connection was established, the app’s home dashboard immediately reflected the mileage of the Polo under the “My Volkswagen” widget, as well as the current fuel tank level.

Navigating to the tab to the right of the Home page provided us with an overview of all the services available on the app.

The listed functions included:

  • My Volkswagen – Overview of vehicle information, specifications, current readings, and service details.
  • Trips – History of trips and associated driving styles recorded for each.
  • Service Appointments – Interface for sending appointment requests to an approved workshop for various vehicle services.
  • My challenges – Game-like system that lets users complete tasks to earn trophies and points. Encourages a safe driving style.
  • Statistics – Overview and in-depth details about distances travelled, litres of fuel refilled, driving style, and challenge progress.
  • Fuel monitor – View your recorded fuel refills or submit refuelling details.
  • Breakdown and Assistance – Contact Volkswagen roadside assistance or Customer Service and send location in case of breakdown or emergency.

Users can add shortcut widgets for all of the above-mentioned functions to the home page.

The third tab provided a Google Maps window with the user’s current location, the last recorded parked location of the vehicle and approved workshops in the area.

Below is an overview of the three main tabs, as well as the My Challenges function.

Vehicle information

Tapping “More details” on the “My Volkswagen” widget provided an overview of our vehicle’s information, including its uploaded picture, VIN, and our given car name.

Selecting the “Vehicle details” option asked us for permission to collect and sync the available information from VW’s records, which we granted.

After this, we were able to view more specifications about the exact model and year of the car, its engine, fuel type, first delivery date, and more.

Further down on the “My Volkswagen” page we were again provided with our mileage and fuel tank level under a Values section.

A Service section below this indicated that our vehicle was due for an Inspection service in 23,600km, and oil service in 8,700km.

Clicking on either of these provided an option to submit a booking request to our preferred dealership.

There was also an option to provide information on our fitted tires, which presumably would provide guidance on the proper time to change them.

Lastly, there was also an option to book a general vehicle inspection.

Below is an overview of the My Volkswagen function and vehicle details section. Note that the picture, license plate, and initial registration details have to be provided by the user.

We Connect Go My Volkswagen tab

Trips and refuelling records

The data plug can track your car’s GPS location in a similar way as a tracker – however, it does not continue to operate when the car’s ignition is switched off.

While not ideal for locating its position in the event that it is stolen or if it needs to be monitored remotely, it does allow for the automatic recording of trips.

During our drive from the dealership back to the office, the app sent a push notification showing that it was recording our current trip.

Upon parking and turning the vehicle’s ignition off, it prompted us with the option to end the trip. The app can also be configured to do this automatically in a set amount of time after the ignition is turned off.

We then had a record of this trip, which included details on the starting and ending mileage and locations, distance travelled, average and maximum speeds for the trip.

Under our trip history, we were also able to mark trips as private or for business purposes and export this as a PDF, which is useful for tax purposes.

Additionally, the data plug had recorded our driving style, rating our engine speed, acceleration, braking, speed, and coolant temperature during the trip.

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Hands-on with Volkswagen’s DataPlug and new app – How it works