Cars are getting smarter and safer, and autonomous driving looks promising but may take longer than expected, as many shortcomings still have to be worked out.
In any case, that means most new cars will be connected to the Internet in the future, especially with the launch of 5G and V2X solutions. This will bring benefits and new business models, as BMW showcased at the recent BMW Connected Car Beta Days 2020.
BMW lists a long list of new advantages of an upcoming software upgrade with improved BWM maps, connected parking to help you find parking space, connected charging to “make mobility more sustainable and innovative”, BMW Digital Key that turns an iPhone into a secure digital vehicle key, wireless support of Google’s Android Auto, and the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant has received some improvement with the virtual character now turns towards the person talking and can distinguish between addressing the driver and the passenger. Some updates look genuinely useful, while others look like gimmicks, and some are hard to understand, e.g. what’s “connected charging” for?
… With Remote Software Upgrade, BMW has created the technical basis for keeping vehicles up to date, adding or booking additional vehicle functions, and installing them quickly and easily over the air.
BMW already offers its customers digital services and additional vehicle functions in the form of digital after-sales, some of which are deeply embedded in the vehicle’s software. Currently available examples of these services are the High Beam Assistant, Active Cruise Control (ACC) driver assistance system with Stop & Go function, BMW Driver Recorder, BMW IconicSounds Sport, and Adaptive M Suspension (the offer may vary in individual markets). In the near future, additional functions will be added that can access the vehicle’s existing hardware and software, such as certain comfort functions or driver assistance systems.
In addition, BMW will offer an even greater degree of flexibility in terms of booking periods in the future. Customers will benefit in advance from the opportunity to try out the products for a trial period of one month, after which they can book the respective service for one or three years…
Consumers used to select options like an air conditioner or a satellite navigation system at the time of purchase, but now BMW will have the option to enable or disable some of the features by software depending on whether you pay for a subscription. This obviously does not include critical or safety functions like breaks or airbags, but currently you have to pay a subscription to use active cruise control and adaptive M suspension among others. Car companies will also have to way find to handle second-hand cars, as a new owner may not be able to access all advertised functions without paying extra.
Connected cars will also offer challenges in the future, as potentially your car could refuse to start depending on your social credit score, alcohol/drugs blood level, driving habits, a missed payment on the car loan, etc… Governments may also decide to mandate auto-fining drivers who exceed speed limits, park in the wrong location, and so on.