Mike Stevens | Jul 2, 2009

IN-CAR COMPUTER systems have been a popular pursuit for aftermarket hobbyists for years, shoving small Windows, Linux and Mac-based computers into the glove compartment and hooking them into a touch-screen LCD in the centre stack.

Carmakers are swiftly catching on however, and over the past few years increasing numbers of in-car computers are appearing as a factory option.

BMW's ConnectedDrive system is just such an example, with online connectivity among its varied functions. Now, the German luxury marque has added real-time fuel price and weather updates to its multi-function display. Unfortunately, Australian BMW buyers will miss out... it's not coming here.

bmw_weather-and-fuel-prices_display_05

For other markets, the Weather screen provides up-to-date forecasts three days ahead, with details such as storm advice and warnings included.

There is also a real-time fuel price update function, giving users the ability to find the best prices nearby, leaving the primitive drive-around-town search to those not as well-equipped.

bmw_weather-and-fuel-prices_display_01

TMR spoke with BMW Australia's PR & Corporate Communications Manager, Toni Andreesvki, who said that the ConnectedDrive system, while initially available with the E55 7 Series, isn't likely to return to Australian-delivered BMW models.

"Most new phones, such as the iPhone, have everything you need on them, and with phone technology and software updating every six months, car owners are upgrading their phone software faster than it can be offered for in-car software," Mr Andreevski said.

"With the average owner holding onto their car for three years, and because BMW designs its model ranges to last for 7 years, a suitable phone - which offers a massive amount of online options and specialised software - will have updated a dozen times in that period."

"Another issue is that with the sort of online functionality offered by the ConnectedDrive system, the wireless broadband infrastructure, and the services such as fuel price and weather updates, simply don't exist in Australia."

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