BMW's Ultimate Drive app for the iPhone and Android-powered smartphones is a prime example of how mobile technology can meld with driver engagement. The app – a free download from the Apple App Store or Android Marketplace – provides users with the best driving roads in their vicinity and the ability to add routes to the database for all to enjoy.
There's a brief tutorial when you open the app to explain the UI elements, how to find and add routes, along with a BMW-curated news feed and the ability to be alerted of new drives added in your area. You can also send your favorite routes through email or Facebook, and you can port the maps to another GPS device or app for turn-by-turn directions – one better than the Aston Martin Experience app we tested earlier this year. Hit the jump for all the details.
Industry-First in Social Navigation Leverages New Communication Channels for BMW Financial Services' Customers While Driving Brand Loyalty
Woodcliff Lake, NJ – August 10, 2011 – The age of "gamification" has come, and BMW Group Financial Services is bringing this social nuance to its customer base of nearly 1 million individuals. Beginning with the development of a new and unique mobile and social experience, "The Ultimate Drive," is a social navigation mobile app that allows users to not only discover the best roads to drive in over 50 countries, but to rank, comment and share those roads via Facebook, email or other GPS devices. Future versions will integrate the ability for BMW Financial Service customers to gain points and achieve high rankings. As the first automotive channel, and specifically captive finance organization, to create a branded social navigation tool, BMW Group Financial Services defines itself as a consistent touch point with customers, through an engaging and interactive means.
"As a company, we pride ourselves on our ongoing uses of technology to build stronger relationships with our customers," said Ed Robinson, President and CEO for BMW Group Financial Services. "Not only does 'The Ultimate Drive' app allow us to broaden our awareness as an organization to a vast audience, but more so, it provides us the ability to nurture a two-way dialogue with our customers in an engaging way."
According to Pawan Murthy, General Manager of Online Business for BMW Group Financial Services, "The Ultimate Drive" is an example of how a captive financial services company can use mobile and social strategies as a consistent touch-point to customers while fostering a connection with BMW vehicles and the global BMW brand.
"A social app succeeds when it forms a community of users with similar interests. A mobile app succeeds when it shrinks that large community into something local and familiar," said Murthy. "Within a few seconds of opening the app, 'The Ultimate Drive' connects you to driving enthusiasts who have discovered great roads in your neighborhood – roads you may have overlooked. Sharing that joy of discovery is why we are eager to launch this app to everyone."
San Francisco-based software and technology firm, SocialNav, Inc., developed the technology that powers "The Ultimate Drive". "We've found that the success of applications like 'The Ultimate Drive' is built on organic growth amongst friends and enthusiasts with similar profiles," said Daniel Pifko, CEO and Co-Founder of SocialNav. "BMW Financial Services is an exceptional partner because it is at the forefront of using smartphones to improve the driving experience. We're excited about the relationship and have great ideas for many more things to come."
While utilizing the latest in navigation technology, "The Ultimate Drive" still remains simple in nature and nearly effortless to use to its full potential – after downloading the app, the user allows the app to find their location and then it displays the stretches of road which others have contributed as the best ones in the area. Conversely, when the user has generated their own favorite stretch, it is as easy as three taps to share via email or Facebook or send to one's favorite GPS device or app.
"The Ultimate Drive" is available for both iOS and Android devices. It can be downloaded for free from Apple's App Store and the Android Marketplace and is meant to broaden the social community around driving.
BMW Group Financial Services is currently developing similar versions for its MINI Motoring and BMW Motorrad brands, and will be extending all applications for its financial service customers in the near future.