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