Inside CES: BMW ConnectedDrive and the BMW i3

This is a record year for automotive exhibitors at the Consumer Electronics Show. An unprecedented total of nine car manufacturers attended the show this year to show of the latest in automotive tech. I stopped by the BMW show space today to check out what they had in store for me and I was pleasantly surprised. BMW has clearly done its research to find out what its customers need in their vehicles. That’s where BMW ConnectedDrive and the new BMW i3 come in!

BMW ConnectedDrive

BMW ConnectedDrive

Like most guys, I love cars—the faster and sleeker, the better! But my first love is cool consumer tech and BMW’s ConnectedDrive system is just that. It establishes a link between car and driver that doesn’t end when you hop out of your car at the end of your trip. ConnectedDrive offers apps that allow you to stay connected to your vehicle using your iOS or Android smartphone. In fact, even the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch can be used to stay connected to your vehicle.

Using the apps, you can perform tasks such as checking whether or not you locked your doors and closed your windows—right on your phone! Forgot where exactly you parked your car? No problem, the apps will let you flash your lights or honk the horn remotely. If you live in the prairies or eastern Canada, you’ll be pretty excited to hear that you can even set your car’s temperature using the smartphone apps.

There are many more features available with BMW’s ConnectedDrive, all designed to make your life easier and your drive more comfortable and efficient. Unfortunately, if I wrote about all of them, I’d never get to the BMW i3. If you’d like to read the full range of ConnectedDrive features, check them out here.

The BMW i3


BMW chose to feature an all-electric car model at CES and they definitely managed to impress! This car was designed with current economic and environmental conditions in mind. We all complain about high gas prices and environmental pollution, not to mention how overrun our cities have become with vehicles. The i3 aims to alleviate these issues by offering an efficient electric solution that cuts down emissions and is easier on the pocketbook. Since this vehicle doesn’t need additional space for unnecessary parts—like a big engine—it is more compact and light. This not only helps to ensure that you can find parking on a busy city street, but it also makes the vehicle more efficient.

I didn’t get a chance to take this baby for a spin (I tried to be a gentleman and let one of my techy female friends test it out), but I did get to ride around in it and was amazed at how quiet it is! It’s so quiet, in fact, that I’m pretty confident that you could sneak up on a pedestrian unnoticed. I’ve found that acceleration can be a bit slow when driving and electric vehicle but the i3 handled that beautifully. It also doesn’t have a brake pedal, which means that when you take your foot off the gas pedal, it automatically brakes. It takes a bit of getting used to but my fellow technophile really enjoyed it, once she got the hang of it.

Despite a minimalistic design aesthetic, the BMW i3 is loaded with bells and whistles. It has a digital display speedometer in front of the wheel. Aside from that it has a digital display built into the centre of the dashboard for entertainment and navigation. It also uses the ConnectedDrive system I talked about earlier, which shows you remotely how much charge the vehicle has left in it and the range it will be able to travel on this charge. It also shows you where the nearest charging stations are so you never have to worry about running out of juice!

Learn more about the BMW i3 here.

By Mike Agerbo

January 10, 2014