In-Car Tech

BMW's next-gen Digital Key offers smarter tech, safer connectivity

BMW owners can use their smartphone instead of a traditional key fob.

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW will introduce the second generation of its Digital Key this winter, ushering in a smarter, safer way for owners to connect with their luxury vehicles.

From their smartphone, BMW owners were able to lock and unlock the vehicle, start the engine and share the key with others using the BMW Digital Key as part of BMW Connected on the smartphone.

The next-gen system (2.0) will use a security chip that works separately from the smartphone operating system. This chip can be used even if a smartphone has run out of battery. This system arrives in vehicles later this year.

BMW Digital Key 2.0 3.0 Users will soon be able to take advantage of more safety and security features.Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW isn't stopping there. They have already announced plans for Digital Key 3.0, which include the implementation of ultra-wideband-based technology. The automaker says that this technology will, "offer maximum anti-theft protection and enable precise localization between the device and the vehicle. As a result, the mobile phone must no longer be held directly up to the door handle to unlock the car, but can conveniently be left in the pocket."

In 2017 BMW Group joined the Car Connectivity Consortium, which is working to establish cross-industry, standardized technologies and security standards. Representatives from smart device creators and other automobile manufacturers are also a part of the organization.

"Our customers want cross-vendor interoperability. Standardization is the only way to achieve this; proprietary solutions are no longer beneficial," said Dr. Olaf Müller, head of Development Digital Access Systems at the BMW Group.

A new technology developed by General Motors may change the trailering experience as we know it, making it safer for everyone involved.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

For some folks, towing a trailer is second nature. It's like riding a bicycle or going for a swim. But for a vast majority of others, towing can be intimidating, scary and even downright dangerous. No matter what category you fall into, truck makers have been working feverishly to come up with new and exciting technologies to make towing easier and safer for you.

One of the biggest challenges of towing, at least at speed, is the abrupt need to come to a stop. Whether it be someone pull out in front of you or the traffic light turned red sooner than you'd expect. Towing down a grade in high winds can create even more issues.

eBoost braking assist trailer This diagram shows the impact of the new eBoost technology.Photo courtesy of General Motors

To help with towing and stopping, electronic trailer brake controllers are common on rigs that tow. They help control the trailer by apply the brakes in the trailer. Setting up a trailer brake control is often described as an art, not a science.

That's where new General Motors tech comes in. Using their electronic brake system from their heavy-duty pickup, the company has fitted it to a trailer for the purpose of improving braking. Their goal was to equip a trailer with the company's eBoost braking system and see how well they could stop with it.

Their goal was to take a 2020 Silverado HD without a trailer and see how far it took to stop. Then they attached a trailer with 9,000 pounds and set a target of stopping in the same distance. They were within three feet.

That means in a full-on, emergency stop scenario a truck towing a 9,000-pound trailer can stop as short as a truck without a trailer. Not to overwhelm you with hyperbole, but that is a game changer.

Why? There's no complicated setup of the trailer brake controller. The equipment already exists, and GM managed to do it with around $1,000 worth of hardware that's already available. It would require a trailer manufacturer to integrate it with their trailers, but the safety benefits are huge.

Unlike some aftermarket anti-lock braking systems, primarily from Bosch, this system communicates with the truck, and can even use electronic stability control to reduce trailer sway.

It's a prototype at this point. GM is hoping to find a trailer maker to help develop the technology. The marketing department is still figuring out all of the details, but in addition to offering it on a brand-new trailer, it might even be possible for certain dealerships or installers to add it to existing trailers after the fact.

While there is a truck war going on with how can tow and haul the most, the efforts that GM is making right now for improving towing safety, such as their invisible trailering system and this prototype trailer brake system, makes the roads safer for everyone – even if they don't drive a GM.

The Hyundai Venue is new to the U.S. for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

If you thought it didn't get any smaller than the subcompact Hyundai Kona, you were wrong. Hyundai's new, smaller SUV, the 2020 Hyundai Venue, has made its way to the U.S. market. Here's a quick look at everything you need to know.

Hyundai developed the model to be budget-friendly.

Research indicated that people often pass up buying new cars because they are too expensive, but then they miss out on the latest safety and infotainment tech. Hyundai wanted to create a vehicle that would cost as much as a used car but have all new equipment.

2020 Hyundai Venue The backside of the Venue reveals a wide opening trunk.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Venue comes in three trim levels.

Buyers get to choose between the base SE, SEL, or top-tier Denim model. All the models come with the same engine but the base model has a six-speed manual transmission as opposed to the Venue SEL and Denim's intelligent variable transmission. SEL and Denim models of the front-wheel drive SUV have three drive modes: normal, sport, and snow.

The Nissan Kicks isn't very quick. What is the engine like in the Venue?

The Venue is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder. It's peppier than the Kicks but nothing too exciting. Still, you'll feel like you have plenty of power at speed.

2020 Hyundai Venue The interior of the Venue features a standard 8-inch infotainment screen.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai has loaded the Venue with a solid list of safety features.

Standard and available safety features include:

  • Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) uses the car's front-facing camera to help detect an imminent collision and avoid impact or minimize damage by braking
  • Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) helps prevent accidental lane departure by sensing road markings automatically steering the car if necessary.
  • Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW) helps detect approaching vehicles that may be obscured from view during highway
  • Driver Attention Warning (DAW) system monitors a spectrum of driver-related characteristics to help detect driver fatigue or careless
  • Rear Collision Cross-Traffic Warning (RCCW) helps detect when a vehicle may have entered a car's rearward path providing a driver

It's supposed to cost as much as a used car. What's the MSRP?

Hyundai sells the Venue SE for $17,350. The SEL is $19,250 and the Venue Denim is $22,050. That MSRP does not include the destination charge. Remember, most dealers are willing to negotiate on prices.

So it's a cheap car. Does it look cheap inside?

The short answer is no. The Venue Denim has nicer appointments than many mid-grade trucks on the market that cost a fair amount more. The designer of the HVAC system controls should be proud that they're both easy to use and attractive while looking like little else currently on the market.

The seats are comfortable.

Most low-cost SUVs and cars have seats that aren't comfortable for any length of time. The Venue is the exception to this rule.

When does it go on sale.

The Hyundai Venue is currently for sale at dealerships nationwide.