Weekly Brief: BMW champions UBI with new FlexiMile offering

Weekly Brief: BMW champions UBI with new FlexiMile offering

In this week’s Brief: BMW, Allianz UK, TomTom, Traffline, Navitel, Facebook, Google+, Cisco,  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Center for Automated Vehicle Systems and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

BMW became one of the first major automakers to offer a factory-fitted, telematics-based insurance product to its drivers. The German automaker extended its partnership with insurance carrier Allianz UK to build a custom product for the BMW i3 and i8 electric vehicles, whose drivers will have the option to purchase comprehensive car insurance from BMW Car Insurance with one of two further insurance products: BMW FlexiMile and BMW Car Insurance – Unlimited miles.

FlexiMile Insurance offers customers driving up to 5,000 miles per year a 25% lower premium. Exceed 5,000 miles and a customer gets charged on a fixed pence-per-mile basis for additional miles driven. BMW ConnectedDrive technology, built into the cars, means that the customer’s mileage is tracked and a monthly statement is produced and sent directly to the policyholder, keeping them fully informed of their mileage driven during the term of their policy. The Unlimited miles product is available for customers expecting to drive in excess of 5,000 miles during their year of cover; offering unlimited mileage cover for a fixed premium.

Should either product chosen not be cost effective, due to the customer driving more or fewer miles than anticipated, they can swap products with one call without incurring any cancellation or administration charges.

In other news, it was a busy week on the traffic and navigation front. TomTom launched its real-time traffic service in Turkey, where the capital city of Istanbul ranks second in the world for overall traffic congestion levels. TomTom’s real-time traffic service tracks traffic conditions as they evolve and offers alternate routes to save time and gas. The service is available via the TomTom GO range PNDs, also launched last week in Turkey.

Traffline added 10 cities to its traffic service in India, including Chennai, Kolkata and Ahmedabad. The India-based start-up culls data from public transport vehicles and taxis with GPS installed to piece together current traffic conditions and uses crowd-sourced reports from the field for accident info. The Traffline app has more than 100,000 downloads and already covers the likes of Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore.

Navitel released an updated version of Navitel Navigator 9 with a new cloud storage feature that makes it easy to access the app on any device with a user’s saved settings and preferences. NAVITEL cloud data storage allows users to save all their settings, addresses (History/Favorites) and waypoints in the cloud. Navitel also added authorization via social networks so that users can log into Navitel Navigator via the likes of Facebook and Google+. The updated app is available for Android on the Google Play app store.

In vehicle-to-infrastructure news, Cisco announced plans to build a Global Internet of Everything (IoE) Innovation Center in Barcelona, where it will focus on designing new services and solutions for cities that are in the early stages of developing urban services for smart parking, smart lighting and location-based analytics. The center will be one of five Cisco sites focused on IoE around the globe, including current centers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Songdo, South Korea, and two more that are under development in Germany and Canada. The Barcelona center is slated to open in summer 2016.

Finally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the Center for Automated Vehicle Systems at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute with a $25 million research grant to investigate automated-vehicle technology. VT’s Transportation Institute recently concluded widely published research that found that text messaging while driving increases the risk of a crash or near-crash event by 23 times for truck and bus drivers. The new research will seek reinforcements to block potential hacking of automated vehicles and identify potential safety issues of automated technology, including fail-safe systems.

“Every member of this institute is committed to our core mission: to save lives,” said Tom Dingus, director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. “Because of that commitment, we are able to undertake such high-profile research projects that ultimately help us mitigate fatalities and injuries occurring on our nation’s roads.”

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.

Andrew Tolve is a regular TU contributor.

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