BMW have this week announced that from later this year they will be providing free Satellite Navigation with all new cars. Not just will this be free to use, but BMW have said it will also include free traffic rerouting for drivers.
This is a very interesting way forward, and is likely to force other manufacturers (at least within the executive sector) to follow suit. I can, however, see a couple of caveats to the news…
Firstly, the standard screen will be 6.5inches, but you can upgrade to a larger (and easier to read) 8.8 inch screen (with a cost at least £900, with some models costing £1400, though that will also include Head Up Display). Secondly, whilst traffic rerouting will be free, I wonder if map updates will continue to attract a large price tag, at a time when many PNDs (Personal Navigation Devices; TomTom, Garmin etc.) provide free lifetime* map updates. I do note that some car manufacturers have joined the Here Maps free map update programme, where map updates will be available for download free for your car (either forever, or at least for the first few years of ownership) and whilst BMW do offer this, it’s not clear whether this will apply to all models, or just those where you pay extra for the Professional Navigation system with the larger screen.
However, hats off to BMW for being able to offer this. Some models will gain the free satnav within the next month or two, whereas others will not get this until September.
* – Normally the lifetime of the device, not the owner.