BMW Connected Drive launched in SA

BMW officially launched its “ConnectedDrive” services during a press event at its headquarters in Midrand on Friday, 13 June 2014.

Using an integrated SIM card from Vodacom, connected BMWs now offer features such as intelligent emergency calls, smartphone-based control of the vehicle, real-time traffic information, and apps.

The SIM is embedded in the car and is limited to providing only the services offered by Connected Drive, but has no usage caps.

Pre-empting security and privacy concerns, BMW said that “with Connected Drive everything is possible, but nothing is obligatory”.

Intelligent emergency call

The BMW’s emergency call feature can place an automatic call in the case of an accident. It is also able to determine the level of injury of the drive or co-driver using an algorithm, BMW said.

Emergency calls can also be made manually using an SOS button to help others that may be in some kind of emergency.

Remote services

Connected BMWs may also be linked to your Android, BlackBerry, or iPhone smartphones.

From there you can control the climate system, operate the hooter, flash the lights, lock & unlock the vehicle, or locate your car on a map with an accuracy of up to 1.5km.

Asked about the security of this system, BMW said that the data sent from the smartphone is encrypted, preventing hackers from hijacking the connection to your car.

Should your phone fall into the wrong hands, the thief still won’t be able to start the car without the key fob.

Tele services

BMW can also handle car service related issues through its tele services feature.

In addition to tracking items that need to be serviced and arranging for a phone call from the BMW dealer, it also offers remote diagnosis and rectification of certain issues.

Real time traffic information

Another optional feature is BMW’s real-time traffic information service which costs R1,300.

Asked how this service differs from the freely available traffic information in smartphone apps such as Google Maps, BMW said that the data is much more up-to-date.

Data is sourced from NetStar and updated minute-by-minute, BMW said.

Concierge services

For an additional once-off fee of R3,200, BMW owners can also get a personal all-hours concierge service.

This offers cost-free calling to a concierge call centre that will respond to your queries and help direct you to wherever you want to go.

For example, they can find a nearby restaurant within certain specifications and send through its GPS co-ordinates to the vehicle’s navigation network.

Availability

Asked whether BMW’s Connected Drive services can be made available to cars already on the road by retrofitting an embedded Vodacom SIM in them, BMW said that it is not “retrofittable”.

“These services will not work in any car built before July 2014,” BMW said.

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BMW Connected Drive launched in SA