Tesla pioneered over-the-air (OTA) software updates with the Model S more than a decade ago. Other automakers are just starting to get on the update bandwagon, one of those being BMW, although the German automaker has a prerequisite that may leave some owners in a bind.
A BMW owner was recently attempted to update their all-electric i4 to version 2022.35, however they encountered a problem when the software update wouldn’t even start. According to the in-car display the reason the update wouldn’t install was because the road was “too steep to start the installation.” To allow the update to complete the message said the owner must “please park the vehicle on level ground.”
In ‘sentences that would make your nan’s head explode’: I can’t update my car because I live on a hill pic.twitter.com/X0Jte5QYdG
— Clare Eliza (@clare_eliza) January 29, 2023
As pointed out by the frustrated i4 owner, this presents a bit of a problem as she lives on a hill, so she would have to drive and park somewhere on flat ground to perform this, or any future software update. But a former BMW software developer chimed in to reveal the reason for the limitation.
According to @neverpanic, who says he worked on the team that developed this particular limitation, it is to prevent the vehicle from rolling away should something go wrong with the software update. The limitation is only applied when the incline is 7% or greater, and was developed as a fail safe should the electronic parking brake malfunction during an update. The Twitter user clarified that the parking brake shouldn’t fail during an update, “but it might leave things in an inconsistent state, and this is a precaution for that state.”
I worked on the team that implemented this. It’s 7 %, if I remember correctly, and as others have speculated it is a safety measure related to the electronic parking brake. Wouldn’t want your car to roll down a hill in the unlikely event that the software flash of the EPB fails.
— @email@example.com (@neverpanic) February 1, 2023
A BMW Canada spokesperson confirmed the limitation with Drive Tesla, who noted that there is no way for the owner to add wheel chocks to prevent a rollaway from happening and then overriding the limitation to accept liability for anything that might happen during a botched software update.