Facepalm: While many automakers have made Apple CarPlay a trim level nicety or just made it standard across all models and trims, BMW will charge new car owners a yearly subscription to use the service. It’s likely a pure profit move instead of a cost recovery mechanism.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have become nearly ubiquitous as automakers introduce updates to their car models. Some manufacturers, such as Mazda, offer the phone mirroring technology as an extra feature on higher trim levels. Others, like Hyundai, make it standard across all trims. However, it seems only BMW will actually charge continuously for access.
The German automaker confirmed that it will indeed charge a yearly subscription fee of $80 per year for the 2019 model year and future models. The service will initially be free for a year before owners have to shell out money. Alternatively, new BMW owners can pay $300 for a “lifetime subscription” which is technically only 20 years.
Realistically, if you can afford a BMW, paying $80/year or $300 for 20 years probably isn’t that big of a deal. Still, it’s laughable that BMW would charge money for technology that’s completely free on rival luxury brands and even more affordable brands. It’s also notable that Android Auto isn’t even offered at all, although the Google Assistant can be linked to the BMW mobile app.
There has not been any official word from Apple regarding their stance on turning CarPlay into a subscription service. However, the concept seems ridiculous considering all of the processing happens on the smartphone. There doesn’t seem to be a huge cost in implementing CarPlay for the car makers, so using the subscription service to recoup installation costs doesn’t seem likely.
On a related note, Apple is adding a couple of new features to CarPlay once iOS 13 launches this fall. One of which is the new multifunction layout which shows controls and information for multiple apps at the same time. Unfortunately, new BMW owners will have to pay for the privilege of using those new features.