Australia: BMW to offer in-car internet access using mobile phone

BMW Australia announced last week plans to offer wireless internet functionality in its vehicles, making it the first car manufacturer to offer this ground-breaking technology.

Drivers and passengers will be able access the internet and email accounts via the BMW iDrive system, using an internet-capable mobile phone.

The system will operate only when the vehicle is stationary to avoid any driver distraction.

BMW Group Australia Managing Director Stavros Yallouridis, said the announcement opens a new chapter in vehicle infotainment system technology.

“BMW has always been at the forefront of technological innovation and we continue that tradition by offering full in-car access to the internet,” said Mr Yallouridis.

The system will utilise the BMW iDrive controller as a computer mouse, to navigate, select and scroll through web content, in the same fashion as a desktop computer.

The system also allows a direct interface with the Bluetooth and BMW Navigation System Professional for the purpose of calling numbers or inputting addresses, sourced from the internet.

“The beauty of this system is in its simplicity, utilising the driver’s internet capable mobile phone,” said Mr Yallouridis.

Customers will be able to order BMW Internet from next month for delivery in 2010. The cost is $200, or $154 for vehicles below the Luxury Car Tax (LCT) threshold.

Excerpts from the Sydney Morning Herald:

The fact that the system uses a mobile phone could prove problematic. New South Wales Police media spokesman Mick Willing says because the system uses mobile telephone technology, NSW drivers could be fined if they use the system in traffic.

“A driver of a vehicle is not permitted to use a mobile phone whilst moving or stationary (not parked), unless exempted as emergency vehicle,” says Willing.

“As a result a driver would commit an offence if using this system through a mobile phone as there is Supreme Court decision in NSW that states any use regardless of other uses of a mobile phone is classified as using a mobile phone. This can be turning it off or on.”

The system is likely to make its first appearance in December, with orders commencing in August.

Source: BMW Australia, Sydney Morning Herald.

Banner space