BMW i3 Owners Left Feeling Disconnected After Possible Telematics Failure

It’s a vision of the future that some of us with plug-in cars get to experience today: a future where our cars talk to us via smartphone apps; where we know about the latest traffic before anyone else; and our cars are always ready and waiting, cabins at the right temperature, before we leave.

Some BMW i3 owners are struggling to connect to their car's onboard telematics system, says The Register.

Some BMW i3 owners are struggling to connect to their car’s onboard telematics system, says The Register.

For owners of the BMW i3, BMW’s ConnectedDrive smartphone telematics technology promised all that and more, including the ability to plan multi-modal trips involving their electric car from the comfort of their smartphone.

But when a planned upgrade to BMW’s ConnectedDrive service went wrong last week, many BMW i3 owners around the world appear to have been left without the ability to log into the ConnectedDrive service, leaving owners feeling… unconnected.

First reported on various Facebook forums over the weekend and more recently on known EV-skeptic site The Register, many owners who were once able to connect their cars to BMW’s telematics service are now struggling, leaving them without the ability to remotely monitor or interact with their cars.

In other instances, BMW i3 owners have found they have been unable to add apps to their car’s on-board telematics system after a recent system upgrade, leaving them without the dashboard apps they want.

BMW's ConnectedDrive system also allows users to add specific apps -- like this music one -- to their car's telematics system.

BMW’s ConnectedDrive system also allows users to add specific apps — like this music one — to their car’s telematics system.

So far, every BMW i3 owner we have spoken to first hand has said their service is working fine, but The Register claims the outage, which may affect owners across Europe and beyond, started on or around July 17.

Of those owners it has spoken to, some say they have no connectivity, while others report sluggish performance.

The claimed system outage means affected owners can no-longer connect to their car remotely and also appears to manifest as an inability to connect their cars to BMW’s telematics service. Because the service operates independently of all car drive functions however, BMW i3 owners can carry on to drive their cars safely.

We’ve reached out to BMW for an official statement, and will bring it to you as soon as we have it.

In the meantime, if you’ve got a BMW i3, we’d love to know how well your ConnectedDrive telematics system is working. Are you able to operate your smartphone app as normal, or have you been scratching your head for a few days trying to figure out what’s gone wrong?

While we’re at it, let us know if you’re a plug-in car driver who uses a different Telematics system with your car, along with your impressions of it. Based on our own experiences, every telematics system we’ve seen has its own flaws and service blips.

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • CDspeed

    The software has a glitch after a recent update, no big deal, it happens, its not exactly a problem that will render the car undrivable.

    • Matt Beard

      Yeah, it’s like losing 5th gear, or the radio stopping working. Doesn’t stop the car getting from A to B – but it’s not the car you just spend a large amount of money to be driving!

    • Mark L

      If it was an app glitch then BMW assist would be able to command my car, but they cannot.

      • CDspeed

        Ok, software then.

  • Matt Beard

    I use OVMS and I am convinced that my unit is faulty as it only gets a net connection about 50% of the time and there is no real correlation between where it is at the time and whether the link works. I can sometimes speak to the car via SMS when the 2G data link is down (which can’t be right). Also, I can sit with a 2G phone running an EE SIM showing full bars right next to the OVMS unit (which currently has an EE SIM in it) and yet the OVMS won’t connect.nnnUnfortunately when I tried to contact the company I bought it from for a warranty fix they simply ignored me 🙁

    • Michael Thwaite

      Matt,nnnThat sounds odd, Mark WJ’s usually very responsive. I’ll send him a note, maybe he missed your message?

    • Dennis Pascual

      Matt, the unit itself could be faulty… I use OVMS on a Roadster and it is very reliable for data and text connections. (in the US with an AT&T SIM (which is normally the weakest part of things))

    • Mark Webb-Johnson

      Matt,nnnSorry to hear you are disappointed with OVMS.nnnLast we eMailed on this (15 Nov), I offered to replace the module and asked for your postal address, but never heard back from you on it. Please email support (at) openvehicles (dot) com.

      • Matt Beard

        Will do so – had decided to take up with original supplier, but they have not helped much.

  • vdiv

    I like my DVD-sourced, HDD-based navigation system.

  • Mark L

    Worked great for me for me until last week. Now it’s not able to talk to the car (it connects to the server and gets very old data) and BMW assist can’t do a remote unlock either. How do I reboot my car? Note that I’m in the North Eastern US.

    • James van de Vyver

      Exactly the same issue for me and I am in Europe (UK). BMW iRemote app is showing old data and is non-funcional. I contacted BMW and they confirmed that there is some system problem causing this.

  • Amped Up

    I am a Seattle owner of an i3 and have had no issues with the iRemote app or the ability to monitor and precondition my car. All is working as it should. I had a software update done July 14, 2014 and had no ill-effect on my remote features. I am happy as could be in my i3.

  • Nissan CarWings has had problems as well from time to time. This sounds a little more terminal in its behavior. Maybe car companies should get out of the telematics business and let a software company or wireless company manage this stuff.

    • Lance Pickup

      Maybe, but at least in the case of Nissan, for the stuff they outsourced, it doesn’t seem like they could’ve picked a worse company to partner with.nnnThe thing is, I’m satisfied with these types of apps taking a little while to get to maturity (provided the basic safety and functionality features are not compromised), as long as the company is listening to their customers and actually moving forward. Everything is going to experience some growing pains. But when the company does not appear to be actively fixing/enhancing their technology, then that’s a problem.