Fleet News

Hi-tech help for stranded drivers

Motor industry boffins have come up with a novel solution to every driver’s nightmare – locking the car with the ignition key inside.

As part of a unique service package to be launched by BMW, stranded motorists will be back on the road again only minutes after making a single phone call.

Later this year, an extension of the German firm’s ConnectedDrive safety and telematics service will allow customers to have remote control over various functions of their cars.

Senior electronics engineer Axel Moering said: “Thousands of people inadvertently lock themselves out of their cars each year, so we decided to find a solution that doesn’t involve the inconvenience of waiting for someone to turn up with another set of keys.

“If they do find themselves in this situation, drivers who take up our Remote Service package need only to contact our call centre, answer a couple of security questions and the vehicle will be unlocked remotely in an instant.”

Unveiled at the BMW Research and Innovations Centre in Munich, the package has also been designed to cater for drivers who want to check if they have locked their car or have forgotten where it is parked.

“Just where they happen to be at the time is irrelevant – it makes no difference if they are a short distance away or in another country.

"We can even command the car to check the outside temperature and use the air conditioning system to either heat or cool itself – this could be a useful convenience for customers coming back from foreign trips who want to open their car doors to a pleasant temperature before completing their journeys,” said Mr Moering.

BMW began exploring this technology after discovering that its service centres were handling more than 7,000 lock-out calls in Germany alone each year.

BMW Innovations spokesman Katharina Bolsteri added: “Customer-oriented innovations are our speciality.

"This is a natural extension to our existing online, assist and service systems.”

Remote Service will be available in the UK from September and will be included in the ConnectedDrive package for customers who equip their cars with satellite navigation.

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