In-Car Tech

BMW in-car tech receives five big upgrades in July and here's how to get them

BMW is upgrading its infotainment system with a big boost for BMW Map functionality, among other features.

Photo courtesy of BMW

This month, BMW will release a comprehensive vehicle software update with new and improved features. Any BMW leaving the plant from July with Operating System 7 will already have the updated roster.

Here's what you can expect from the upgrade.

BMW Maps

2021 BMW 5 Series

Photo courtesy of BMW

The experience of using BMW Maps will be improved. BMW says that it will be faster, more intuitive, and more accurate. Destinations can be entered more easily and new cloud-based route calculation improves performance.

BMW Maps will now use real-time traffic information in addition to historical and extrapolated data to optimize routing. That data has been collected from over 14 million BMW vehicles. The automaker says that the system, "avoids unnecessary detours through residential areas."

When searching for a destination, BMW Maps lists the search results based on the vehicle's position. The application will now provide contextual information for points of interest including ratings, business hours, and images.

Connected Parking functionality also supports the search for parking spaces with additional services.

Connected Charging

2021 BMW 5 Series

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW's Connected Charging services are being expanded as part of the update. Customers can now view details of past charging processes in the app and define specific time windows in which the car should be charged. The app can now also send push notifications directly to the customer's smartphone when charging events occur.

Public charging information has been expanded as well, now offering more detailed information on charging stations including opening hours, providers, or authentication options. Users can also see points of interest nearby like cafés or restaurants.

All-electric vehicles now push their projected range to the app, which users can view in the form of a blue circle on the map overview.

If their BMW senses that a driver needs a break, the app will automatically suggest stopover points that include charging destinations.

BMW Digital Key

2021 BMW 5 Series

Photo courtesy of BMW

On the heels of an announcement at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, BMW has confirmed that the innovation is part of the upgrade, not just coming to new products. Click here for more information about this specific feature.

Wireless Android Auto

2021 BMW 5 Series

Photo courtesy of BMW

Many new luxury vehicles are going wireless so it's no surprise that BMW is following the trend - something they announced in December. As part of the new update, Android Auto will become wireless in vehicles already equipped with Android Auto.

Users can access Google Assistant and interact with their smartphone with their voice and see the results on BMW's infotainment screen.

Additionally, the capability allows for adoption of Google Maps turn-by-turn guidance that is displayed on the vehicle's instrument cluster and head up display.

BMW Personal Assistant

2021 BMW 5 Series

Photo courtesy of BMW

The BMW Personal Assistant system is getting a new design. It has been enabled with intelligent functionality as well. This means that the system can now do things like show a graphic on the screen that turns toward the person talking (driver or passenger).

BMW says that the update allows the Personal Assistant to provide "proactive assistance with possible voice commands to improve natural interaction."

Here's how to get the update

Certain BMW vehicles built before July are capable of over-the-air updates. BMW has been enabling remote software upgrades since 2018.

For those vehicles, the update will be pushed to the cars starting in the third quarter of the year. The automaker says that around 20 minutes of installation time is required.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Nissan Re-Leaf is designed to help in disaster zones.

Photo courtesy of Nissan

When you need disaster relief, this Nissan Leaf is there for you, at least in theory. The Nissan Re-Leaf, an electric emergency response vehicle concept vehicle, takes the idea of portable electricity to a new level.

The Re-Leaf isn't just all-show. It's a working prototype that is designed to serve as a mobile power supply that can be used following natural disasters or extreme weather events. The Leaf was the world's first mass-market electric vehicle when it debuted a decade ago.

Natural disasters are the biggest cause of power outages. A 2019 World Bank report found natural shocks and climate change caused 37 percent of outages in Europe between 2000 and 2017, and 44 percent of outages in the US over the same period.

Nissan Re-Leaf

Photo courtesy of Nissan

Usually, when a disaster hits, the time for electricity supply to be restored is typically 24-48 hours if the damage is not too extensive. During that time, electric vehicles can provide mobile emergency power.

The Re-Leaf has a few modifications to make it disaster-ready. That starts at the exterior of the vehicle where weatherproof plug sockets mounted directly to the exterior enable 110- to 230-volt devices to be powered by the car's lithium-ion battery.

It is designed to drive into disaster zones and provide a mobile power supply. The integrated energy management system can run medical, communications, lighting and other life-supporting equipment.

The cars can also act as mobile storage batteries to supply homes with electricity during non-emergency situations by using the LEAF's bi-directional charging ability, a standard feature of the model since its introduction in 2010. This means the LEAF can not only 'pull' power to recharge the high-capacity battery, but also 'push' it back to the grid through V2G (Vehicle-to-Grid) technology, or directly to electronic devices through V2X (Vehicle-to-everything).

Acting as a portable power station, the latest generation Nissan LEAF e+ with a fully charged 62 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery can provide enough electricity to power the average UK household for around six days.

This concept may look futuristic but the future is already here. Nissan has used the Leaf to provide emergency power and transportation following natural disasters since 2011.

The Re-Leaf sports an amber color scheme, a nod to the ancient Greek word for amber – electron – the origin of the word 'electricity'. There's a roof-mounted LED light bar that flashes amber lights as well. Nissan has raised the car by 70 mm and given it a wider track and all-terrain tires on 17-inch wheels.

Inside, the rear seats have been removed and the floor levelled to provide storage for essential equipment. A custom bulk-head cage also separates the front seats from the cargo area.

A bespoke pull-out desk extends from the cargo area with a 32-inch LED screen and dedicated power supply creating an operational hub to run communications from and manage the recovery process.

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Acura is revealing its next-gen MDX slowly, first with this, the MDX Prototype.

Photo courtesy of Acura

The MDX is the best-selling Acura in the lineup. It's also America's best-selling luxury three-row SUV. But that's not good enough.

Acura is redesigning the MDX and as it prepares to enter a fourth generation, a prototype of the new SUV will be shown on October 14. This looks to follow the same pattern as the TLX launch, which saw a prototype revealed about six months before the true model debut, just after the PMC Edition was put on sale.

Acura says that the next-gen MDX will usher in " new levels of Acura design, performance, technology and craftsmanship, assuming the mantle as the brand's new flagship model". And that's a good thing. The brand revolution that started with the RDX and continued with the TLX looks to go even further in a bid to re-establish Acura on its premium model throne.

The ofirst MDX was the industry's first three-row SUV based on a unibody platform, a design that has since gone mainstream as crossovers and lifestyle SUVs overrun a vehicle type that started as rugged off-roaders and family trucksters. Since it's debut, the MDX has garnered praise from buyers and critics alike including winning the 2001 North American Truck of the Year and 2001 Motor Trend SUV of the Year awards.

Over the past two decades, cumulative sales have surpassed 1 million units, securing MDX's place as the best-selling Acura model, accounting for roughly one-third of the brand's U.S. sales since its launch.

"We're accelerating Acura's commitment to Precision Crafted Performance and this fourth-generation MDX is the most ambitious and consequential redesign of an Acura core model in our history," said Jon Ikeda, vice president and Acura brand officer. "This all-new MDX will take us into new territory in terms of performance, prestige and emotional appeal."

The teaser image (above) and video (below) that were released today highlight the sharply sculpted beltline running the perimeter of the wider, lower and longer MDX, connecting the Jewel Eye LED headlights at the front to the Chicane LED taillights in the rear.

The MDX Prototype pulls heavily from the RDX and TLX with design nods to each. Still, it's unmistakably a three-row SUV. Though we don't know for sure what's under the hood, expect the MDX to have more a dynamic driving style when it debuts, following in the vein of the RDX and TLX redesigns.

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