First teased in a quirky video on BMW South Africa’s Youtube last year, the German car manufacturer has now officially launched its BMW ConnectedDrive service locally in a press event at its headquarters in Midrand, on Friday the 13th of June.
“So connected, you’re free”; as it reads on BMW’s official website for its unique suite of services that the German company hopes will imbue its cars with useful smartphone like features. The move is, no doubt, a means of attempting to gain a foothold in the South African marketplace before the release of smartphone enabled car services such as Apple’s CarPlay.
The ConnectedDrive service works in South Africa through an embedded Vodacom SIM card, which has no data cap for ConnectedDrive services, and enables BMW vehicles to harness smartphone-based features such as real-time traffic and weather, access to apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Napster, and can even initiate an intelligent emergency call after accidents.
BMW drivers who opt to enable the ConnectedDrive experience will be given access to the following features:
- Intelligent Emergency Calling allows the vehicle to place an emergency call on behalf of its driver in the case of an accident and will reportedly be able to determine the level of injury of both the driver and passenger.
- Tele-services allows BMW to keep track of and diagnose your vehicle from almost anywhere. In addition to tracking when the car needs to be serviced, it also offers remote diagnosis and help in circumstances when a trip to the workshop may not be needed.
- Real Time Traffic Information (RTTI) offers BMW owners real-time traffic updates sourced from NetStar, which will stay updated minute-by-minute (this service costs an extra R1300).
- Concierge from BMW is a value added service whereby BMW owners will be given access to 24-hour concierge services that include cost-free calling to a concierge centre where the vehicle owner will be able to get personalised help to find places such as the nearest restaurant, and get the coordinates sent directly to the vehicle’s navigation network. This service will cost R3200, once-off.
- Remote Service is where BMW ConnectedDrive manages to impress. With smartphones dominating, Remote Service will allow the driver of the BMW to link their Android, Blackberry, or iPhone handsets to their vehicle, which will then allow drivers to control almost every aspect of their vehicle through the BMW Connect app. This will allow drivers to control the climate system, operate the hooter, flash the lights, and more importantly lock and unlock the doors, activate the alarm, and even look up the car on a map.
With security in mind, BMW promised that “with ConnectedDrive everything is possible, but nothing is obligatory”. In the case of the Remote Services, BMW stated that all data sent and received through the owner’s smartphone to their vehicle will be encrypted, which will prevent hackers and thieves from hijacking the connection to the car if the phone was to fall into the wrong hands. Furthermore, the engine will not be able to start without the physical key being present.
ConnectedDrive will only be available as a service to BMW vehicles built after July 2014 and is, unfortunately, not retrofittable to older models.