• Traffic-watch product suggests departure times via smartphone
  • Carmaker to bring service to other countries later in 2016

BMW drivers will need to find other excuses besides traffic to justify lateness as the German automaker starts a smartphone service that tells car owners the best time to leave.

Real-time departure alerts sent to the driver’s smartphone are part of the BMW Connected mobile application introduced Thursday in the U.S. The system, based on Microsoft Corp.’s Azure cloud-computing platform, will tap into a range of sources for traffic data, BMW AG said in a statement. The Munich-based luxury-car manufacturer plans to roll out the technology in other markets later this year.

A BMW Connected Mirror shows route warnings and reminders
A BMW Connected Mirror shows route warnings and reminders
Photographer: David Mcnew/AFP/Getty Images

BMW is striving to take the lead as digitization transforms the automotive industry, Chief Executive Officer Harald Krueger said in a strategy presentation this month. He’s also responding to customers who want seamless connectivity whether they’re in their vehicles or elsewhere, and to new competition from cash-rich technology companies, such as Apple Inc., which are readying their own mobility products.

“The value creation is shifting from the actual hardware toward software and services,” Krueger said in a speech on March 16. “Established carmakers are now confronted with competitors from outside the industry.”

BMW Connected will also include the company’s existing remote services, such as vehicle location, remote locking and unlocking and fuel-level information. Once inside the car, the driver can shift data access from the smartphone to the vehicle’s on-board display system.

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