BMW says customer data is safe despite the introduction of in-car subscription services

BMW says customer data is safe despite the introduction of in-car subscription services

With data breaches on the rise worldwide and new cars becoming more connected via the internet, BMW has assured its customers that their data is safe.


BMW claims sensitive customer information — like credit card numbers and other personal details collected through its controversial in-car subscription services — is only accessed by the German automaker and poses no risk of a data breach.

In July of this year, BMW announced it would offer vehicle features like heated seats and built-in dash cams as additional monthly paid subscription services – similar to subscriptions to streaming services Stan, Netflix and Spotify.

In the future, BMW vehicles will be equipped with pure subscription functions that can only be activated if the owner pays the corresponding fees.



BMW requires its customers to make the purchase online to access the features, with an “over-the-air” (OTA) update unlocking the features in-car.

While BMW has been accused of double-dipping – by asking customers to pay to use features already installed in its cars – further concerns have been raised about the security of customer data and the way the automaker shares information with it would share with his supplier.

Speaking at an event hosted by electronics giant Bosch, BMW CEO Oliver Zipse said private customer data is never shared directly with suppliers and the automaker plans to store sensitive information internally to minimize the risk of a data breach.



“We know suppliers – some are sitting in this room. Of course, they want the data from the cars, which we are happy to make available, but only via the backend,” Mr. Zipse is quoted as saying Diginomica as said.

“There will never be direct third-party access to the operating system and functions in the car to ensure the privacy and security of all customers.”

The new BMW X1 is the only model in Australia to include subscription-only features

According to Mr Zipse, there are more than 20 million BMW cars worldwide capable of receiving over-the-air updates, with 3.8 million running on the automaker’s latest-generation “iDrive 8” system.



It is clear which BMW vehicles are eligible for subscriptions abroad. In Australia, for now, owners only have to pay a subscription fee for the new BMW X1 to enjoy certain features like heated seats and a heated steering wheel.

In the BMW X1 sDrive 18i, heated front seats can be “unlocked” for $29 a month or $289 for 12 months, $419 for a three-year subscription, or $589 for unlimited access – transferrable from one owner to the next.

Heated front seat access is standard on the BMW X1 xDrive 20i, although heated steering is $19 per month for both X1 classes, $169 for 12 months, $259 for three years, or $349 for lifetime access costs.



A spokesman for BMW Australia could not confirm how many X1 owners had opted for the subscription features, as the SUV only arrived at local showrooms last month.

Within the last two months, two major data breaches related to the automotive industry have occurred both in Australia and overseas.

In September 2022, nearly 10 million Australian Optus customers were affected by a nationwide data breach that compromised personal information such as driver’s license numbers.



Less than a month later, because giant Toyota reported that nearly 300,000 customer email addresses were compromised in a cybersecurity breach, although it only affected vehicle owners in Japan.

In response to the data breaches, Frenchie InfoSec CEO Sam Stewart said removing unnecessary information from IT systems is the best way to avoid exposing sensitive data.

“While I always encourage consumers to be mindful of what information they share online, the responsibility here lies with the companies tasked with protecting that information,” Mr Stewart said journey Last month.

“You can’t leak data that you don’t collect, so I wish more companies would embrace the data minimization trend to proactively take consumer privacy seriously.”

Jordan Mulach

Jordan Mulach was born in Canberra/Ngunnawal and currently resides in Brisbane/Turrbal. Jordan joined the Drive team in 2022 and has previously worked for Auto Action, MotorsportM8, The Supercars Collective and TouringCarTimes, WhichCar, Wheels, Motor and Street Machine. A self-proclaimed iRacing addict, Jordan can be found either behind the wheel of his Octavia RS or in his ZH Fairlane at the weekend.

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