BMW to Debut 5G Tech in iNext EV

BMW AG plans to equip the production version of its Vision iNext electric concept vehicle with fifth-generation (5G) communications capability when the model launches in 2021.

This will make it the first Bimmer to get the technology—and possibly the first production model to do so among all carmakers. Several companies—including BMW, Audi and Mercedes—have started to use 5G in manufacturing plants, but in-vehicle applications will require more testing and validation.

The iNext (pictured) will use Qualcomm Inc.’s 5G system. The San Diego-based supplier has been testing 5G automotive chipsets for several years and expects to commercialize the technology in 2021.

BMW and Qualcomm executives predict that 2.2 billion people worldwide will have access to high-speed 5G cellular systems by the end of next year. Coverage for the next-generation protocol, which is just beginning to be phased in, is expected to surpass that of current 4G networks soon thereafter.

5G systems can operate at speeds of 5 gigabits per second—more than five times that of current 4G LTE modems and with one-tenth the latency. This will allow for improved cloud connectivity to help facilitate autonomous vehicle features, in-vehicle streaming videos and vehicle-to-everything communications.