Alexa, What is a Beemer?

My 1961 BMW R50/2 motorcycle is a Beemer. On the other hand, the 4-wheeled vehicle you drive with a blue-and-white roundel on the hood is a Bimmer. Now that she's in bed with BMW, Alexa needs to brush up on her nomenclature.

When you ask her what a Beemer is, she says it's a BMW car. That is incorrect. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, the Urban Dictionary sets the record straight. A Beemer is a BMW motorcycle and a Bimmer is a BMW car. If you persist in mixing them up, three large guys from Munich knock on your door and "show you the factory tour" if you know what I mean. The distinction should be important to Alexa because Amazon and Bayerische Motoren Werke have inked a deal to put Alexa in all new BMW cars.

Alexa and BMW are no strangers. She's been interfacing with BMW cars since 2016, using an app called BMW Connected Skill for Alexa. From your home, you could ask Alexa to check fuel level, use remote services, schedule routes and departure times, and so on. With the ongoing roll out of Alexa in the cars themselves, you can use the assistant to play music, find what movies are playing at your local cinema, check the weather, order things online, as well as other Alexa stuff. In theory, using Alexa is less distracting in a vehicle than using onscreen menus. Although, I really wonder about that. Voice control may let you keep your eyes on the road, but the diversity of Alexa's skills could also encourage more mental distractions.

Of course, BMW is not alone here. BMW, Mini, and Volkswagen are putting Alexa in all of their 2018 models and Ford, Toyota, Lexus and Nissan are putting her in select models. Car makers probably estimated the cost to develop and maintain proprietary voice assistants versus the income from proprietary harvested data and calculated it was better to farm it out. Ford, for example, is replacing its SYNC with Alexa. They also figured that today's car buyers really want to have gee-whiz gadgets like Alexa.

Personally, I'm not so sure I need Alexa while driving, and in fact I dread the day when assistants start getting pushy. Imagine hearing, "Dave, I notice that you're not using your turn signals. This is just not safe. I have emailed a turn-signal tutorial to you, with a copy to the sheriff's office." Or, "Dave, your steering wheel inputs suggest that you are sleepy or impaired. I am driving you to the next rest stop so you can nap for one hour."

In any case, Alexa is being integrated into 2018 BMW and Mini cars. The actual mechanism is via a built-in SIM card that comes in every new model. A smartphone is not required. If you are uncomfortable with the fact that Amazon can potentially log all your driving activities (privacy concerns) or, alternatively, if your wife's or daughter's name is Alexa (unspeakable confusion), I would strongly suggest that you pass on that Bimmer you've always wanted.

And finally, here is today's quiz. There are three vehicles in two garages. The vehicles all have boxer engines. The engines have a total of 14 cylinders. What vehicles are in the garages? I'll give you a hint: don't bother asking Alexa. She has absolutely no idea.

Arnaud32's picture

That has to be 2 Porsches and a beemer!!!!

mround's picture

Ferrari BB and Beemer.
3 VW Beetles (old style) and a Citroen 2CV.
VW Beetle, Porsche 356, Subaru WRX, and a Beemer.

One could go on. There will almost always be a Beemer in the group, to get those extra 2 cyl. Not very many 2-cyl. boxer cars around.

mround's picture

I missed the "three vehicles." Sorry. You're right - need boxer 6's and Porsche is (almost) it ...(thinking)... perhaps Subaru SVX as well?

Arnaud32's picture

I had forgotten about the 2CV....
That being said, I believe the older subaru impreza had a boxer 4., so we could go 2 old impreza and 911.
Any combination of 6-6-2; 6-4-4; 8-4-2 :)

John Sully's picture

Made a boxer six for a while.

Ken C. Pohlmann's picture
Damn! I didn't realize there were so many car people here in S&V land. Clearly I've wasted the last 30 years writing about stereos; I should have gone with cars instead. These are all good guesses and, of course, many answers are possible. I like Arnaud32's answer the best - a flat-2 Beemer plus two flat-6 Porsches definitely equals 14..... Congratulations! I'll have S&V's editor arrange a "factory tour" for you.
Arnaud32's picture

can go hand in hand! There is not many things as enjoyable as a nice stereo set up with a good record AND the sound of a the old air cooled flat 6 from an old 911 or of an old Beemer!
I'd actually get to the former driving the 911 if I could !!!!