BMW offers full on-board Internet access
Users will be able to use the Web through BMW's idrive system (shown)
The service will operate via an EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) mobile connection, currently the fastest universal mobile connection available.
BMW says the service, which is part of its ConnectedDrive package, is the first of its kind to allow unrestricted Web access in an automobile.
Operating through the BMW iDrive control system, the Web can be surfed via a small joystick mouse. Information relevant to a destination can be put on the navigation system with the press of a button. For safety reasons the Internet can only be used at speeds of less than 5kph. If the vehicle has a rear DVD system, passengers in the back seat can access the Internet when the vehicle is traveling at any speed.
Manfred Grunert, a spokesman for BMW ConnectedDrive, believes the company is responding to growing customer needs for Internet services. “Customers need Web access in the office, they need it in their private lives, so we thought, why don’t we complete that with Internet in the car too.”
The carmaker plans to start offering the factory-fitted option in Germany in September, with the US and other European markets receiving it shortly afterward. It will be offered at no extra charge to those purchasing a ConnectedDrive package in any BMW model, but will have an unlimited mobile data tariff charge that the company estimates will cost customers approximately 15 euros a month.
BMW’s biggest German rivals, Mercedes Benz and Audi, told Automotive News Europe that they have no plans to offer a similar option in the near future, because of a lack of customer interest.
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