BMW i3 telematics update leaves service inoperable

Many owners of BMW’s new i3 electric car have been left out in the cold this week, after a planned update to the bundled telematics service crippled the system, leaving them without many of the promised features and some unable to even use it for the most basic tasks.

The problem arose when BMW attempted to update its ConnectedDrive service, but an error occurred, sending many of the on-board systems into meltdown. Now many owners are not only unable to use the system for telematics purposes, but many of the built-in applications or those that have been added later by the car owners, are inaccessible also. That often means that there’s no stereo, which is essentially unheard of at this stage in modern motoring.

Supposedly, it occurred due to German servers migrating data, without British based i3’s being properly configured for it. Without the old servers to access, the cars have thrown in the towel. Fortunately the vehicles themselves still operate fine, but it’s all of their fancier functions that are now disabled.

A BMW spokesperson issued the following statement to concerned drivers: “I am sorry that you have been experiencing difficulties with the ConnectedDrive application process. BMW (UK) Ltd are aware that there is currently a major outage issue and they are doing everything they can to resolve this matter.”


However, not every user seems to have been affected, presumably because they chose not to perform the update for whatever reason. However, those that are affected could be out of luck for some time, as The Register‘s source is claiming that a fix could require a complete reprogramming at the server end. There’s also the potential for it requiring a localised fix, which would be far more time consuming and costly to fix than a patch that could be sent out remotely.

This is of course something that is going to become more of a problem as cars become more connected. While they have been using digital systems for years, it’s only in the past 12 months that we’ve seen a real push for more connectivity in vehicles. That’s mostly to do with the roll out of 4g internet services which provide the bandwidth often necessary for streaming media or other high capacity aspects of online interaction. However, it’s a concern that needs to be addressed going forward, as if a botched update can brick people’s telematics systems, then there’s a real worry that nefarious individuals could perform similar moves deliberately, especially if third party applications are given clearance to be installed in vehicles of the future.

It’s ironic perhaps though that the i3 is running into problems, since it was only the other day that we were talking up its benefits. Allianz announced earlier this week that it had teamed up with BMW to offer some new insurance packages based around the telematics built into both the i3 and the other electric vehicle BMW produces, the i8. Both vehicles can save on insurance through specific schemes, as well as offering plenty of connected features, such as remote access via a smartphone app.

    Jon Martindale

    Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.

    All author posts