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Option up: BMW's are more connected to the world around them than ever.

Integrated ConnectedDrive SIM card turns BMWs into four-wheeled smartphones

23 Apr 2014

BMW drivers no longer need a mobile phone to access internet-based applications while on the move, thanks to a permanently installed extra-cost SIM card in all ConnectedDrive-equipped vehicles.

Previously, a mobile phone paired to the vehicle was required to access information via the internet and mobile network, but the new system is stand-alone, effectively making the vehicle a four-wheeled smartphone or tablet.

From March/April production, with the exception of X1, Z4 and X6, all vehicles in the BMW range equipped with navigation can enable ConnectedDrive. All the features are controlled through the existing range-wide iDrive system.

A basic package costs $690, while the full ConnectedDrive Freedom packs costs $1200. In addition, buyers can pay $250 extra for the real-time traffic option (and it is only available with the more expensive pack) and $200 to access internet browsers.

The basic package allows drivers to control some vehicle functions, such as the ignition and ventilation systems, or check the battery level, remotely.

Naturally, drivers can also simply surf the web, though this privilege costs a further $200.

The same smartphone connection can be used to remotely flash the headlights and identify the car's location if it has been lost in a busy carpark, and if it can still not be located, its position is be shown on a map.

A BMW call-centre operator can even unlock your car for you if you have been accidentally locked out.

In addition, the system also allows emergency calls can be made to either a breakdown response center or to emergency services to summon assistance for other road users, but if the vehicle detects it has been involved in an accident itself, it will automatically call for help.

Finally, the condition-based servicing system also now uses the Teleservices feature to send vehicle data to a chosen BMW service center, so that a unique maintenance plan can be determined before the vehicle has been booked in.

All services and information that the internet offers are accessible in-car such as news, weather, search requests and email, but if accessing them in the conventional manner is inconvenient, the Concierge service provides an operator who can send requested information directly to the vehicle.

However, you have to shell out for the $1200 package to access this. In addition to all the features mentioned, the Freedom package also provides real-time traffic information.

The full range of downloadable applications will be made available at the ConnectedDrive online store, which is also the place to go for renewing and updating subscription information.

A subscription charge applies to the BMW-provided services but the range of packages are all-inclusive so customers will not need to establish a separate mobile-phone phone contract.

BMW ConnectedDrive packages
Real Time Traffic$250

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