When it comes to BMW news, this past week has been one of the most eventful weeks in recent memory. Not only has BMW unveiled two futuristic projects – i Vision Dee and e Ink Dee – but the company also gave us some insight into their future digital plans. Those plans include a couple of major upgrades to the infotainment system in 2023. The BMW iDrive 8.5 and iDrive 9 will come to replace the current operating system in several BMW models. One of them is the all-new BMW X1 crossover.

New Head Unit Needed

Initially, we were under the impression that all current BMW X1 models (U11 generation) will be able to upgrade their iDrive 8 to the latest iDrive 9. But unfortunately, that won’t be the case. In a statement issued to us by a BMW spokesperson, we learned that in order to get the upgrade, the cars need a new head unit. “This applies to new vehicles from the production line only, as iDrive 9 relies on a new infotainment Headunit. BMWs with iDrive 8 already in the field will cannot be upgraded to OS9. Of course however, they will keep being updated via Remote Software Upgrades.”

This particular statement also applies to other BMW from the compact class, like the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. So in layman terms, if you have already taken delivery of an X1 or 2 Series Active Tourer, then you won’t be able to get the iDrive 9 upgrade. The new head unit is allegedly going to be available in about two months time. But BMW was not able to provide us at this moment a specific production week when the cars will start getting the new hardware upgrade.

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As for the rest of BMW’s new lineup, such as the 7 Series and upcoming 5 Series, there’s going to be an iDrive 8.5 that replaces the current iDrive 8. Yet, from a user of interface perspective, the iDrive 8.5 is identical to iDrive 9. The only different is that the former is based on a Linux platform while the latter uses the Android Automotive OS (to not be confused with Android Auto).

Feel free to bookmark this article since we will update it with the production week of the X1 with the new head units, and also with the full list of iDrive 8-powered BMW models which will get the upgrade to iDrive 8.5 or 9.