AT&T and ZTE USA are set to launch a gadget designed to bring Wi-Fi connectivity to virtually any modern vehicle. The ZTE Mobley plugs into a vehicle's on-board diagnostics (OBD-II), allowing up to five devices to connect to it and share a single link to the web.

The Mobley is powered by Qualcomm's MDM9215 processor and taps into AT&T's 4G LTE network. There are no power cables to contend with as the gadget draws power directly from the vehicle's diagnostics port. That means it powers on when you start your car and shuts off when your car does.

Since 1996, it's been mandatory for all cars manufactured and sold in the US to include an OBD-II port.

You're probably asking why your vehicle needs to double as a Wi-Fi hotspot, especially considering that most of us have smartphones with their own data connections and mobile hotspot hardware already exists. About the only plausible scenario I could think of would be to offer passengers (children, perhaps) a way to connect to the Internet for entertainment purposes while on a road trip. Since it's powered by the OBD-II port, it'll free up your car's auxiliary power port (cigarette lighter) for other devices to use... so there's that.

The ZTE Mobley goes on sale September 11 and is available for $0 with a two-year agreement or $100 sans contract. AT&T says the device can be added to a Mobile Share Value plan for an additional access charge of $10 a month or connected with a DataConnect plan with monthly charges starting at $20.

Image courtesy BMW