June 14, 2024

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Software Updates Extend Automakers’ Relationships

Recently released software updates available for connected cars provide examples of what vehicle owners can expect going forward as cars become software platforms and automakers transition into software developers.

In one software update, electric car company Polestar made a web browser available as a free download. The Vivaldi web browser for Polestar 2 operates in the vehicle’s 11-inch center display and works similarly to how it would on a mobile device, enabling browsing, streaming and online shopping. It can be used only when the vehicle is parked. Polestar announced the availability of the app on Dec. 22.

“It’s great that we could answer our owner community’s desire for a browser with Vivaldi as a Christmas present,” Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath said in a press release. “Now there is a whole new world of web content you can explore in Polestar 2 — even some of your favorite streaming platforms.”

This announcement followed Polestar’s release in November of a performance software upgrade that adds power and torque and boosts the speed of the Polestar 2. This is available in selected European markets and can be purchased online and installed remotely via an over-the-air update. Polestar said it expects to make it available in the U.S. and Canada in the spring.

“The upgrade highlights how connected technologies can transform the relationship a car company has with its customers,” Ingenlath said in a separate press release.

Bringing the Latest Digital Products Into the Vehicle

BMW made its latest quarterly technology update available in North America in December. Its Remote Software Upgrade 21-07 includes about a dozen new functions and functional improvements.

Among these are an updated BMW News app with podcast-based news, a second-generation BMW Digital Key that allows users to lock, unlock and start their BMW with select Android devices, and the addition of SiriusXM’s Pandora stations, which enable users to build their own ad-free music channels.

“BMW Remote Software Upgrades deliver comprehensive improvements to key vehicle functions, bring the latest digital products into the vehicle over the air, and ensure the vehicle’s software is always up to date,” the automaker said in a press release.

Staying Connected, Even Without Cellular Connectivity

Jeep released a video in December that previews what it plans to offer with connected software technology. Released in conjunction with Stellantis’ Software Day event, the video shows concept features and the benefits this technology could deliver to Jeep owners who take their vehicles off the road.

The concept features include software with information about 6,000 preloaded off-road trails; over-the-air updates that continuously enhance the vehicle’s technology; apps that help drivers locate and communicate with other owners of Jeep vehicles on or off the road; profiles that allow them to share their vehicle upgrades and achievements with other off-road enthusiasts; and augmented reality head-up displays.

“With vehicle-to-vehicle communication capabilities, our Jeep brand community will stay connected and share adventures from the most remote locations, even without cellular connectivity,” Mamatha Chamarthi, senior vice president of Software Business and Product at Stellantis, said in a video on Software Day.

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