The future is digital
The future is
digital
The functions and benefits of
Remote Software Upgrades

Real-time updates and new functions: more than two and a half million vehicles can enjoy new software packages thanks to Remote Software Upgrades from the BMW Group – easy, efficient and safe driving. Wireless updates are driving digital connectivity whilst providing improved performance, driving pleasure and customer value.

Wouldn’t it be nice to learn something new overnight? To simply close your eyes, fall asleep, absorb knowledge and wake up? What about during the day on a long run? You could then stretch in your yoga class like bamboo bending in the breeze, putt the golf ball from off the green or chat away in Italian on a weekend trip to Rome.

Sadly, this doesn’t work for people. But it does for BMW vehicles thanks to Remote Software Upgrades, which allow them to receive new software wirelessly. Updates can improve existing functions and even add completely new ones. They can be sent on the go and online, simply “over-the-air”. So, there is no need to transfer any data using a cable or USB stick and certainly no need to visit your local dealership.

How BMW Remote Software Upgrades work

Today, every new vehicle that leaves a BMW Group plant has between 50 and 60 control units that control the car’s various functions. We can update the software for these components using Remote Software Upgrades. Users can download new software packages using the My BMW app on their smartphone and then transfer it to their vehicle using WiFi and Bluetooth. Packages can also be downloaded automatically – whilst the vehicle is in use – via the vehicle’s own SIM card. The BMW Group has developed its own over-the-air software and integrated it into its vehicles. The software controls, monitors and secures the upgrade process, and is perfectly adapted to the onboard power supply. You can confirm and complete the installation by just clicking on the central information display a few times.

Claudia Allegrini

“We’re always focused on adding value for our customers.”

Claudia Allegrini Product Owner Remote Software Upgrade

Improved comfort, improved safety

A great example of a wireless update is the Remote Software Upgrade that the BMW Group released in October 2021 for two million BMW drivers and customers around the world. The upgrade package was created for more than 30 BMW models and varied depending on series and country. The robust upgrade made your favourite Spotify podcasts available in the BMW music streaming service Connected Music and refined route planning in the navigation system to allow for even more accurate arrival estimates. The detection logic for the lane-keeping system was also optimised. The system now recognises when the car is being driven on roads without any centre-lane markings and can provide appropriate support.

We released our first over-the-air update in 2019. Since then, the BMW Group has offered more than 50 new features and improvements to its customers. And we continue to provide around three large upgrade packages per year. All of this makes the BMW Group a pioneer of digitalisation within the industry. We are the only automotive manufacturer to offer over-the-air updates for all functions for millions of vehicles. This spans across our product mix of more than 30 BMW models and all types of drivetrains – be it, a fully electric, plug-in hybrid or internal combustion engine.

“We’re always focused on adding value for our customers,” says Claudia Allegrini, Product Owner for BMW Remote Software Upgrades. “In terms of software and digitalisation, you should always be able to keep your vehicle up to date – just as you would with a smartphone, tablet or notebook.” Interestingly, BMW dealerships also benefit because the upgrades relieve some of the pressure on workshops, which are then able to handle other customer orders more quickly and further improve the quality of their service.

Steffen Krautwasser

“I also view this in relation to our efforts to electrify at least a third of our company vehicle fleet by 2025, from which point on we will only allow zero-emission vehicles to enter the fleet.”

Steffen Krautwasser, Head of Global Car Fleet at SAP

Acid test at SAP

A fully networked smart device on wheels: That’s an appealing car for thousands of employees at SAP, who drive a BMW as their company vehicle. “Innovation is important to us in general, and we’ve found it at BMW,” says Steffen Krautwasser, Head of Global Car Fleet at SAP. Not only is he responsible for 28,000 company vehicles around the world, he also has to ensure that the technology group is on track to achieve its goals relating to sustainable mobility. The company’s tech-savvy employees have come to expect to be able to install over-the-air software updates in their vehicle’s operating system and then simply let the update run silently in the background. Moreover, “over-the-air software upgrades help us streamline and perfect administrative processes in fleet management,” Krautwasser says. “They also meet our employees’ requirements in terms of overall service by reducing the need to visit workshops.”

According to the fleet manager, the benefits of wireless software updates are both tangible and significant for SAP because the BMW Group controls all the necessary front- and back-end processes perfectly. Furthermore, the BMW Group upholds the highest standards when it comes to both data protection and security: “Security is a fundamental aspect of developing and continuously updating vehicles over their entire lifecycle,” Claudia Allegrini explains. “We’re constantly monitoring and improving the integrity of the software in our vehicle fleet.”

Electric vehicles take centre stage

Steffen Krautwasser believes remote software upgrades will become even more important for SAP’s fleet in the future. “I also view this in relation to our efforts to electrify at least a third of our company vehicle fleet by 2025, from which point on we will only allow zero-emission vehicles to enter the fleet.” Quick and widespread adoption of electromobility will make a vehicle’s digitalisation features more relevant, for example, when it comes to searching for a charging point or determining the best route to optimise range. “I expect our employees to increasingly prefer vehicles that are well integrated into the digital world and offer innovative solutions,” Steffen Krautwasser says.

As services such as Remote Software Upgrade remain extremely important for the BMW Group, a variety of new features are being planned. “Starting and carrying out remote software upgrades will become even easier and more convenient for our customers and fleet operators, for example, by using our app remotely,” Claudia Allegrini says. Other functions, in particular the Intelligent Personal Assistant, will be integrated further as the BMW voice assistant makes the upgrade process more intuitive and natural, which will further increase its appeal going forward.

Three examples of Remote Software Upgrades

Assisted View

Assisted View:

see what the car sees

When driving with Active Cruise Control (ACC), you can see what the vehicle detects on the road around you by looking at the instrument cluster. This ensures a more comfortable driving experience, including in poor visibility, because the system can even detect other road users in fog.

M Track Mode
BMW M3 Competition*

M Track Mode:

pure racing feel

The high-performance vehicles from BMW M GmbH feature M Track Mode, which allows various comfort and safety systems to be deactivated. The sound and navigation systems are also both turned off. This allows the driver to concentrate exclusively on what matters on the racetrack.

Intelligent Personal Assistant

Intelligent Personal Assistant:

smart and intuitive

You can now turn on the air conditioning, window defroster and steering wheel heating using the Intelligent Personal Assistant, i.e., using voice control. Thanks to Remote Software Upgrades, customers already in possession of their vehicles can also enjoy these new functions. What’s more, the assistant suggests possible commands based on the current situation and conditions. For example, if it’s cold outside, the system may suggest you “activate seat heating”.

*BMW M3 Competition fuel consumption combined: 9,8 l/100 km according to WLTP; CO2 emissions combined: 224 – 223 g/km according to WLTP.

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