When BMW issued health warnings to 46,000 cars across Australia last week – via phone SIM cards embedded in the vehicles – the message came as a shock to many owners who didn’t know the technology existed.
And while the alert advising people to “stay indoors” over the Easter break may have been stating the obvious to most owners – some of whom may have taken exception to the unsolicited message – it has revealed what is possible in the event of any future national emergencies.
The message was sent by BMW Australia to 46,000 BMW and Mini cars and appeared on the infotainment screen in the dashboard.
The message was possible because all BMWs sold in Australia since mid-2014 and all Mini cars sold locally since July 2017 have come with an embedded phone SIM card hidden in the car.
It is primarily designed to update onboard software and act as a backup to the car’s connectivity systems. It does not track or trace customer location data.
The same health warning message was also sent to customer phones if those phones had the BMW Connected app installed (pictured above).
A statement from BMW Australia said: “While we understand our owners might have already been aware of the government’s important social distancing recommendations, our message was intended to remind them of those guidelines, but at the same time demonstrate the many possibilities of ConnectedDrive, and how we are able to keep our owners informed and updated, particularly in a time of crisis.”
BMW says its ConnectedDrive system “combines advanced in-car functionality and the mobile network, delivering a range of constantly updated services and apps to keep the driver connected to the outside world”.
“The message we sent last week underlines the many possibilities of this technology and what we can do to keep our customers informed and updated,” the company said.
The embedded phone SIM card system can also be used to remotely “lock and unlock the vehicle, turn on interior ventilation, and flash headlights among other features” via a smartphone.
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