There is a lot of talk of connected cars of late, but there are currently no OEM auto manufacturers that offer unrestricted Web access. BMW is planning to be the first to do so with an upgraded version of its ConnectedDrive system on show here in a BMW X6 the 2008 Geneva auto show. Like many other telematics systems, ConnectedDrive currently provide assistance and car services via a cellular GPRS connection, with some restricted access to the internet. Starting this year, the service will expand to offer drivers unrestricted browsing of the Web. The system on show in Geneva is a prototype, but BMW engineers say that the final version won't look too much different.
The browser is accessed and controlled via BMW's iDrive interface, with Web pages showing up in the high-resolution dash-mounted display. The system only operates in the front seats while the car's engine is off, but rear-seat passengers will be able surf to their hearts' content at freeway speeds if the car is optioned up with a rear-seat display and special rear-passenger iDrive interfaces. The service is to be rolled out in Germany starting at the end of the year and is expected to be priced between 100 and 200 euros for an annual flat fee.