BMW axed its $700 optional speed-zone recognition technology in May, blaming the frequent varying speed zones in Australia for bamboozling their system.
However, Audi's new Q3 sub-compact SUV which arrives about this time next year will "eventually" come with an optional speed limit display. The technology uses cameras to identify speed signs and displays the relevant speed on the satnav screen and on an LCD screen in the instrument binnacle. The recognised signs are cross-referenced with satnav information.
Audi Australia spokesman Sean Poppitt says the technology will be used in Australia. "The speed limit display technology will eventually be introduced into Australia but we don't have a firm timeline as yet," he says. "Each country has its own unique road sign systems and idiosyncratic details, and it takes time to integrate all of these different countries with the technology. So it's not always a quick process, but the technology will come to Australia."
Other speed zone software includes Holden's advisory system in its latest VE II Commodore, while speed limits are also included in most of the latest aftermarket satnav systems, such as TomTom.
The BMW satnav software has been available in the 7 Series sedan and 5 Series wagon this year, but was withdrawn in May. BMW spokesman Piers Scott says the company has not had any issues with the equipment functioning properly anywhere in the world, except Australia.
"The high number of variations of speed limits, especially in urban areas, meant the accuracy wasn't what it should be for a BMW product,'' he says. "Accuracy was still in the 90 per cent region but, nonetheless, there were enough little niggles and anomalies for us to withdraw it. We've had [German] engineers here on three separate occasions fine-tuning the system, but it's still not what it should be.''
Scott says BMW has not permanently shelved the potentially life-saving technology for Australia. "We are confident we can overcome it. It is a problem that is only occurring in Australia. They're happy elsewhere because there aren't the number of changes in speed zones we have here.
"The technology and data are no different from other markets, but here we have such a high level of variable speed zones, it's struggling to keep up with it. And the very draconian way in which speed limits are patrolled here means there is no margin for error.''