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BMW Offers Real Time Traffic

9/07/2006 08:48:00 AM Eastern

New York — Clear Channel announced it is providing real time traffic to most BMW models in an arrangement that makes BMW the first car maker to offer live traffic without a monthly fee.

Real time traffic will be available on the BMW-made navigation systems installed in the BMW 3 series, X5, M5, M6, 5 and 6 series. BMW has already begun to offer the service on some of these models, said Clear Channel.

By removing the service fee at $120 per year on some vehicles, or $60 per year on some portables, Clear Channel said it will help broaden the market.

“Every time we do surveys with consumers to find out what they want and don’t want, the biggest negative is always the subscription fee. They’d rather pay a one time fee and have real time traffic included in the life of the vehicle,” said Jeff Littlejohn, Clear Channel senior director of product development.

He added that JD Power and Associates recently completed a study that found that consumers chose a $1,500 navigation option on a vehicle 29 percent of the time, but when real time traffic was added without a monthly fee the take rate increased to 44 percent.

Littlejohn said this trend has already occurred in Europe where service fees are bundled in the price of the car.

Portable GPS is still offered mainly with a subscription fee for real time traffic.

Clear Channel said the BMW 6 series will offer real time traffic as standard equipment and the other models will offer it as an option. Clear Channel said it is also in discussions with other automakers.

Real time traffic is also available on select Acura, Cadillac, Infinity and Lexus models through XM’s NavTraffic service with an annual service charge of approximately $120.