As the restaurant industry continues searching for ways to serve up off-premise meals at faster speeds, in-car ordering is one approach becoming more common. BMW is the latest automaker to join this conversation, having just partnered with restaurant-tech company Olo to make food ordering available directly from its vehicles.
According to an Olo press release, the two companies are currently running a pilot program for select BMW vehicles in the U.S. from 2015 onwards. BMW car owners can check their car’s compatibility with the new food ordering program and register for it on the BMW Labs site.
Once the software is enabled in the vehicle, users can send orders to participating restaurants directly from their car, pre-configure favorite orders, and pay instantly. The system is similar to the one Domino’s currently has underway with Chevrolet: once a user links their restaurant account to it, they can order favorite meals via touchscreen on the car dashboard, re-order recent ones, pay via credit card (which is on file with the restaurant), and follow driving directions to the restaurant to retrieve their food.
As of now, you can’t browse menus or input payment information directly from your dash. While that’s certainly safer (I can barely pick a Spotify song on my dash without running the car off the road), it also limits what users can order and customize.
Two restaurant chains, Nektar Juice Bar and Portillo’s Hot Dogs, are the first to participate in BMW’s pilot program, and there are bound to be others that follow. With more Americans spending more time behind the wheel these days, in-car ordering provides yet-another channel through which restaurants can reach more people. It’s also potentially, though not totally, safer than someone using their phone while driving to order food. BMW isn’t alone here. As mentioned above, Chevy and Domino’s partnered this year to bring the Domino’s AnyWare platform to vehicles. GM’s Marketplace system has been in cars since 2017 and lets users order from Starbucks, Wingstop, and other chains.
BMW may have an advantage here in that its system is powered by Olo, which specializes in making the order process from third parties a simpler experience for restaurants and customers alike. That said, the in-car order concept as of right now is still pretty bare bones — for BMW and everyone else. Ultimately, though, that probably won’t stop your average non-foodie citizen from re-ordering their favorite pizza or hot dog on the way home from work, and for in-car ordering to become a regular part of the car experience in the future.