By on July 24, 2019

As automakers connect more vehicles to the internet and install app-based shops into the dashboard, we’ve become increasingly worried with in-car marketing annoyances and the prospect of companies hiding content behind paywalls. Our concerns turned out to be valid.

BMW has decided that it will charge customers an annual subscription fee if they want to utilize CarPlay in its latest models. Odd, considering most other automakers have been trying to get the platform inside their cars as standard equipment. However we’re betting that changes unless BMW gets a healthy dose of criticism. 

Subscription models have, unfortunately, become growingly popular among businesses. Research conducted by management consulting firm McKinsey & Company estimated that subscription e-commerce retailers went from $57 million in sales in 2011 to $2.6 billion in 2016. But monthly delivery services are only the tip of the iceberg. Practically every industry is getting on the trend, whether it makes sense or not, making the official tally impossible to estimate. Some tech and media subscription services rake in billions all by their lonesome every year.

It’s easy to see why companies are trying to incorporate subscriptions. They’re an effective way of distancing value from a service. A couple bucks a month doesn’t sound like much but, as you add things up over a period of years, it becomes meaningful. Inputting your credit card and making things a click a way only makes things easier for the business. In fact, it’s often more work to cancel a subscription than start one and odds are good that you’ll forget it exists after a few months ⁠— allowing companies to continue charging you without your realizing it. A Waterstone Management Group survey from 2018 found that 84 of Americans vastly underestimate their monthly tech spending due to the phenomenon.

While BMW currently offers CarPlay for a one-time fee of $300, the new arrangement converts this to a 12-month plan of $80. The company does have a 240-month plan for $300, but it’s unlikely this will be promoted at dealerships. Either way, it doesn’t cost the automaker anything to add this content on the coming vehicles (all of which will be connected to the internet). It’s simply being tucked behind a paywall that’s being converted to a subscription model. Meanwhile, its rivals are (mostly) offering CarPlay as standard equipment.

Perhaps equally telling is BMW’s recent announcement that it is establishing a new partnership with U.S. Bank to provide an “enhanced digital experience and greater value for customers.” The automaker already said it was toying with the idea of a points-based reward system ⁠— potentially gamifying in-car shopping ⁠— while it develops a robust automotive marketplace. Now it’s issuing credit cards where customers can earn and redeem points toward BMW products and services. Round and round we go. Except we know where this stops; right back at the BMW store.

None of this would be so unsavory if it didn’t involve withholding content and stacking subscription fees. Sadly, we estimate that other premium manufacturers will attempt something similar (and soon). Mercedes-Benz has hinted at placing automotive options behind MBUX purchases as well. And don’t think this will be limited to high-end nameplates with customers more willing to spend money. As infotainment systems continue to evolve, this may become par for the course.

[Image: BMW]

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123 Comments on “BMW is Going to Nickel-and-dime You to Death, Others Likely to Follow...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    BMW has to be able to make a compelling enough product for me to purchase with my money for them to be able to nickel and dime me. Increasingly bland sedans and minivans with molecular sized engines in vehicles costing as much as significantly nicer vehicles will not persuade me to step foot in their show room.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Current 2 series and the new M340i are both excellent products. Arguably, the new Genesis G70 3.3 is a better value than the M340i, but go drive both and the BMW still retains an edge. It’s also surprisingly reasonably priced.

      I think that automobile subscriptions are going to become fact of life. For one, it’s going to be less expensive for the manufacturers to build in the technology and then activate it via subscription. Cuts down on manufacturing complexity and logistic concerns.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Surprisingly reasonably priced? Maybe I didn’t search the correct cars but I calculated 49k and 55k respectively for prices on those two BMWs. That’s base cars with inline 6s. Those are both small cars with (admittedly probably pretty great engines) priced in the $50k, that is a ridiculous sum of money for a small 6 cylinder with no options.

        • 0 avatar
          hreardon

          Not to belabor the point, Hummer, but a $55k M340i comes pretty well decked out, sans upsells for the paint, upgraded leather, and self-driving nannies that I can do without.

          Again, the Genesis G70 3.3 is going to give you more bang for the buck for sure, but having driven both back to back, the BMW still has a nice edge to it.

        • 0 avatar
          SatelliteView

          Don’t forget, Mr Hummer, that 2019 $ is not the same as $ before. $55k in 2019 is the same as $37k in 2000

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            It’s not hard to forget when the next Corvette is about to come out below $60k with a 500HP V8 in a mid engine car. Not to mention my SS sedans handling is compared to the peak M5 car (e39?) and sold for less than $50k with an LS3 just 2 years ago. So paying 55k for Compact car with a 6 cylinder does seem excessive.

    • 0 avatar
      Noble713

      Agreed. Tech in modern cars mostly seems like a rip-off to me, and I say that as a 36yo techie who spends an inordinate amount of time glued to a computer.

      I think my next project after my MkIV Supra (not that I would sell it) will be buying a used Toyota GT86 for $10k and dropping in a used BMW B58 engine. A better choice than buying a new MkV Supra or other BMW sports car. And I’d rather add my own Linux-based carputer setup than let any of these OEMs rake me over the coals for their infotainment crap. Even a Raspberry Pi and a touchscreen is a better solution than BMW’s Carplay pricing.

    • 0 avatar
      dantes_inferno

      BMW – Breaking wallets since 1916

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      It has to be compelling AND reliable. I am not sure BMW has been reliable outside a lease in years. They may not be Guilia bad, but not a whole lot better.

  • avatar
    Robotdawn

    Subscriptions are the death of your finances. We allow one subscription streaming service at a time, and have no other subscriptions at all (not even Prime). If a service can’t be bought outright and I can afford it, it’s not happening.

  • avatar

    Chalk this household up to the “never paying for carplay” side. If it can be standard equipment on a Chevy Sonic, it can be standard equipment on any BMW.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      It’s kind of like how lower-end hotels have free wifi and breakfast, and you have to pay for parking and everything else in nicer hotels.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      This is like the high end hotels which make you pay for wifi, while the Holiday Inn Express down the street offers it gratis.

      When I ask how nickel and dining customers could possibly be compatible with a luxury experience, I’m told that “their target customer is so rich they don’t care about such piddly little charges”.

      I can easily afford $15/day when I travel. I just won’t pay it, because it’s a bad deal and it’s a feature that I expect in a hotel room — along with a roof, running water, modern sewage disposal and HVAC — in a hotel room.

      The analogy to the 3-series is obvious. A backup camera was an optional accessory long after it was standard equipment on the Civic. And so it is with CarPlay, as well.

      You know what I find luxurious? When things are so smooth and well planned that I don’t have to constantly make economic decisions. As soon as you tell me a price, the spreadsheets come out — giving me one price up front and sticking to it is my idea of luxury.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        To extend this to BMW, I’d recommend they make every BMW 328 (or whatever engine size) one price, however you like it.

        “Your BMW 328 will by $50k regardless of what you choose, sir. Now please tell us what kind of leather you want, what color the stitching should be, what you’d like monogrammed on the headrests, and where and when you would like to have it delivered.”

        This is very different from the resource optimization game that you always end up playibg with car configurators now.

        As it is, the last time I played this game with a BMW, I bought a Civic instead — because it was a MUCH better deal. If you want to sell luxury, you’ve got to keep the economic brain out of it as much as possible — by not putting a price tag on everything.

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          +1 to that Luke. I’m comfortable now but I haven’t been for long enough to get used to it. Forcing me to consciously choose to waste more money on myself every step of the way makes me miserable and I’m happy to resolve that by forgoing the purchase entirely.

          My brain knows that fifteen dollar dings disappear in a $4,000 Chase bill but my gut doesn’t.

        • 0 avatar
          SPPPP

          “As it is, the last time I played this game with a BMW, I bought a Civic instead — because it was a MUCH better deal. If you want to sell luxury, you’ve got to keep the economic brain out of it as much as possible — by not putting a price tag on everything.”

          Could it be that cultural differences explain part of this difference in mindset? Perhaps wealthy Germans are so used to a lifetime of frugal decisions that they relish each individual decision to splurge. So maybe having to agree to numerous overpriced options is a way to remind themselves that they have made it, that this really is luxury.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “…their target customer is so rich they don’t care about such piddly little charges”…

        Considering how many of these hotel rooms get rented out to business travelers, the target customer isn’t really the guest – it’s the corporation paying the guest’s expense account, and the corporation could probably care less.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          I agree with FreeMike on this. When I was a consultant in Manhattan, there were any number of businesses that priced based on the assumption that most of their customers were corporate tax deductions. There was no value relationship between the black car rides I took home many nights on vouchers and their cost to my employers. Sometimes it was annoying billing expenses that often exceeded my compensation for various business functions. When I was at Bear, they would put up my entire work group at the W hotel if we were working late. When I was at Deutsche Bank it was routine to go to a ‘meeting’ of hundreds or even thousands of employees at least once a month that cost more per person than a millionaire’s first daughter’s first wedding. I also had an offsite meeting with two other people catered in a large conference room in a downtown luxury hotel. I’ve seen corporate employee moving bills that exceeded the value of my furniture at the time by about five fold. The bank paid for moves, so cost was no object. I paid for my furniture, and I am really straight. Fix the tax code and the ‘luxury’ service industry would cease to exist.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            …same reason for the stupid-high taxes on rental cars and hotel rooms – corporations pick up the tab.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            “…same reason for the stupid-high taxes on rental cars and hotel rooms – corporations pick up the tab.”

            Not really. I live at the beach. Hotel rooms and rental cars are taxed highly because travelers aren’t voters. My property taxes on my condo are laughably low because tourists pick up the slack. Places with stupid voters also end up with meals taxes, because they believe politicians when they’re being told that meals taxes will mostly impact tourists.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        The hotel thing annoys me like crazy. I fail to see what value a Ritz Carlton provides for the extra money compared to a lower Marriott. Unless you get a suite, the rooms are all similar.

        I have also always had the same theory with luxary vehicles. If it’s available on a Kia, it should be standard on a Mercedes.

      • 0 avatar
        slap

        If I get free wifi at a motel, I don’t expect it to be able to handle streaming well. If I pay extra for wifi they better be able to do HD streaming.

        What extra value does BMW give to CarPlay?

  • avatar
    TMA1

    The worst part is that Apple is giving CarPlay away for free, just like Google does with Android. The idea of some company inserting a paywall between me and a product they didn’t even develop is really galling. Especially when it’s a subscription paywall. I’m sure the cost to integrate the software is minimal, and easily absorbed in the high profit margins inherent in selling a 2.0T vehicle for $50K.

    I don’t see myself ever buying from a company this tacky. But that’s BMW’s business model these days. Mine decades of good will to sell disposable vehicles to people desperate for a badge.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      My $20K Civic EX has CarPlay.

      If I were to “upgrade” from a Civic to a BMW, would it really be an upgrade?

      Bavarians need compelling value propositions, too.

      • 0 avatar
        Carrera

        About two years ago, for about 10 seconds, I have toyed with the idea of trading in my gas miser commuter Corolla S for a 3 year old BMW 328d with low mileage. Depreciation was in full swing for the BMW so the price was very good. After a short test drive, I realized that my Corolla S was much better equipped than the BMW and wasn’t worth it. Back up camera? Sorry Sir, becomes standard in the next year model ( because federally mandated actually). LED headlights? Hmm, part of a different luxury package Sir. It is well equipped with AC, power windows and doors Sir.
        I walked away. The ultimate driving experience wasn’t that ultimate.

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          It used to be you were willing to give up some of that stuff because the driving was sublime in a 3 series. Now you give that up for a generic driving experience. When the first M3 came out I wanted a 3 series. I have not wanted a 3 series in over a decade now. Especially after reading the long term tests and issues like warped clutches and leaking master cylinders and electrical issues before the 40k/1 year test is up.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Wonder if someone with a whatever is the VAG-COM equivalent for Beemers will figure out some sort of a hack?

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Subscription models are a pernicious business practice in most scenarios. They rely on consumer ignorance rather than value add to separate customers from their cash.

    “As we celebrate mediocrity all the boys upstairs want to see
    How much you’ll pay for what you used to get for free”

    – Tom Petty, The Last DJ

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      I remember feeling almost homicidal when I finally had to start forking over for annual anti-virus subscriptions, for cripes sake! I even wrote an E-Mail to Symantec stating that I refuse to pay for something which should be free!

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I haven’t used an anti virus program in probably a decade, going only to sites that I know are safe and not opening any emails I can’t immediately verify their origins has kept my computer running smooth and fast, hell my laptop is at least 10 years old now, old 15” Alienware that’s held up. Though it is about time for a replacement… I just hate the thought of buying a new Microsoft office pack.

  • avatar
    midwestTDI

    Would agree with Hummer. Test drove BMW, other VWs, Jaguar F Pace diesel, Lexus, but ultimately what did I need? A car with AWD w/good to great gas mileage and no 2nd mortgage to support the new car. The Subie that I ended up with has Android Auto (iPhone – CarPlay). It’s been great but only when you have a strong cell signal. Works great when traveling major interstate systems but not so great rolling through the NC mountains and hills. Still need Garmin and a USB ultra fit (small) thumb drive to hold all the music.

    Long and the short — guarantee I get 4G anywhere I travel, I might think about paying for something that’s just a default app (today) or hell, just continue buying Garmin.

    The content I get using MY CELL PHONE / MY DATA PLAN — THAT I PAY FOR ALREADY and charging customers more money for the feature? Crazy!!!

    What’s next? You want to drive the car? Need gas? Enable the fuel tank feature we’ll need $$$ per year. Want better mileage then you’ll need to cough up $$$ per year for high efficiency features to be enabled. Every time passenger sits in the front seat or in back, ding! There’s $10 for activating airbags.

    Come on… technology / apps have been around for years. They didn’t develop the idea yet they want to create a new profit center.

    Will the system provide onboard logging showing dropped signals, no 3G/4G/5G service and will we get a refund check every month/quarterly/yearly? Without a strong consistent cell signal, the phones will only buffer so much before you hear silence — and what I am referring to is the ability to listen to content outside of your home town. I listen to a Colorado station all the time as local content in Omaha, NE, well, sucks!

    Can’t tell you how many times my cell service drops momentarily as the signal is passed from tower to tower .. try driving through western Nebraska or Eastern Wyoming. Dead spots all over.

    I like the M series, but there are some really nice cars available today that do the same job, getting me to point A to point B and back.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      I agree and would smell a class action lawsuit associated with BMWs decision to bill for CarPlay. CarPlay is obviously an Apple product and when its in use, BMW infotainment is just acting as a touchscreen to a cellular handset. Im pretty sure Apple would not be pleased with a third party charging to access an Apple software feature.

      • 0 avatar
        NeilM

        “I agree and would smell a class action lawsuit associated with BMWs decision to bill for CarPlay.”

        Bwahahahaha! On what legal basis, that BMW won’t give you something for free that you wish they’d give you for free? Good luck with that.

        Your recourse is simply not to buy one, although frankly I think that the prepaid $300/240 month option would make a fine negotiation closer if you were buying a new BMW.

    • 0 avatar
      AA610

      This is the part that bothers me too. I’m already paying for the right to receive content through my phone via my data plan. All this is doing is bringing it up on a screen in a “driver friendly” format. And that should be a subscription service? Give me a break.

    • 0 avatar
      SatelliteView

      Google maps works of GPS and does not require data. Just preload the map of the area you’ll be traveling through. On your phone, with in Google maps, click on 3 horizontal lines in the top left corner. Them click on offline maps, use your finger to select an area to be preloaded.

      I use this when I go off-roading. No need for active data to use navigation

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, this is exactly why I won’t rely on streaming. I drive all over the Hudson Valley. It is a washboard geography. Cell networks prioritize phone calls, so there are few gaps, but data has huge gaps. Streaming music is an exercise in frustration-Spotify caches so it is better, but trying to stream one station or off a web page is useless while in motion. Likewise, don’t rely on Waze or Google Maps to get you to the ski area. I have been saved more than once by the in car system, or on the phone, maps.me will keep the map on the phone…and GPS you anywhere without any network issues.

      • 0 avatar
        jh26036

        Offline maps are your friend. If you know you’re going into an iffy area, just pre-download it at home. Takes all of 2 minutes.

        I download all the areas when I go abroad as well.

    • 0 avatar
      white ridgeliner

      Ha! Reminded me of that Philip K. Dick SF novel where the buildings had coin-operated doors.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Well then, there goes the last molecule of what was left of my BMW-fanboi.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Got to fill in that subsidized lease gap somehow.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I believe it unwise to bill customers for such services.

    Add the cost of such services into the purchase or lease price–think of it as a “bundle.” Separate charges for each product/service, known as “de-bundling” might work for Spirit Airlines, who separately bills you for each feature/service used.

    For a high end auto manufacturer, it wreaks of pettiness. This is tantamount to charging extra for all the seats except the driver seat—infotainment is viewed as essential equipment for contemporary buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “Would you like the seat to have softness and not be a picnic bench? That’ll be $5/month. Oh, and the steering wheel goes left–do you want to unlock turning right? $3.50. Steering wheel tilt, that’ll be a buck and a half. Oh, you want to engage the amplifier and ALL the speakers? $10/month–but that INCLUDES a discount for Pandora Plutonium. And if you’d like to shorten the braking distance from the standard 400 feet from 70-0, that’ll be $15/month (user is responsible for his own pads and rotors).”

  • avatar
    sckid213

    This is truly egregious, even for BMW. Imagine the reaction if GM announced this??!!

  • avatar
    Oreguy

    C’mon, there’s an awful lot of development cost associated with BMW’s 1,256 models. What did you expect?

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “BMW. The Ultimate Vending Machine.”

    OR

    “BMW. The Ultimate Slot Machine.”

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I like the slot machine quote.

      Because after the warranty runs out, it’s a crapshoot.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Aftermarket warranties on cars like these are a lot more reasonable than you’d expect, as long as you don’t buy them through the dealer.

        In fact, when push comes to shove, I’d rather drop $1500 on something that covers you for four years versus paying a premium upfront for a CPO that only gives you a year.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          The aftermarket warranty business is one of the shadiest areas of enterprise in the US. There are warranty companies that fold every few years to escape expected claims on warranties they’ve sold. There are warranties that have a list of ten items that are covered attached to sixteen pages of ‘exceptions’ when those ten items are not covered. There are warranties where they specify what they’ll pay for any covered repair, and good luck finding a qualified mechanic who still charges $35 an hour. There are warranties that take too long to pay and no shop that is going to remain in business will let you take your car pending remuneration from a warranty company. The warranties that aren’t completely wasted money are the exception. If you are looking at a car that you think you need an extended warranty for, buy a better car from Toyota instead.

          A friend of mine bought a good aftermarket warranty in about 2004 for his 2001 BMW 740i Sport. It was about $2,300 at the time. It was money well spent, as the warranty company paid out over $9K just keeping his car on the road the next two years, never mind the features that were allowed to die.

          My friend liked being a BMW driver more than he cared about being a loaner driver or borrowing friends’ cars all the time his BMW was in the shop. He bought a new 2008 GTI DSG when the warranty on the BMW was up. He hated the GTI after commuting on concrete freeways for a week with its horrific ride, so he wanted a 2006 545i. The warranty company quoted him $5600 for a shorter and narrower warranty on the 545i. I’m not sure what sort of actuarial tables told them to keep warrantying BMWs, but I bet they’re not in the business anymore and legitimate warranty companies aren’t underwriting BMWs.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    BMW has weeded out all of their discerning customers. It’s time to milk the status-seekers who are left behind.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Boy, that’s most honest and damning summary of where BMW is in 2019 that I’ve seen.

      Nicely done.

      • 0 avatar
        SatelliteView

        I think it’s true for all luxury cars. They are a commodity now and are driver by everyone and their mother.. Having an $80k e class or 5 series in any major urban area won’t get you noticed, nor really give you ant status

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Ouch! LOL right on the money IMO

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Bingo. But…

      1) They’ve been doing this crap for God knows how long now. To wit: $50,000 cars with stuff like heated seats as two-zillion-dollar “options.” Ask the salesperson and he’ll say this is because BMW customers prefer to “customize” their cars. BWAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA…

      3) To echo what someone else said above, I’m sure a buyer with an ounce of negotiating savvy would get the subscription fee tossed in.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        @FreedMike It just gets worse. Over on some BMW blog, a hard-core BMW fanboi will be boasting that they get opportunity to get this and pay extra for it! Up charges and totally outrageous maintenance costs are part of the privilege of have superior German engineering. That prior sentence pretty much sums up what I read on S-Klasse and & 7-Series blogs this weekend. Who knows? refined, special German-engineered nitrogen for your tires might become another upscale options. In fairness, I own a Lexus and some of the entries in Club Lexus make me want to cringe. In the end, they’re cars, they need maintenance, they break, enjoy what you drive.

    • 0 avatar
      Lockstops

      Well put. I think the owners are done caring about the company since they’re set for life financially and getting old. As if Klatten ever had a clue personally anyway…

      I guess the company is now run by the slimiest guys who managed to get to the top by playing office politics ‘elbows out’ the best and sucking up to the owners. They’ve also kept hiring total losers. When I saw the documentary about the i3 I couldn’t believe that BMW could be a bastion of nutless scarf-wearing pencilneck Frenchmen making the most un-masculine cars possible with complete disregard to the driving experience or the roots of the company (I still bought one and had it for about half a year though…)!

      For so long now they’ve just cashed in on brand equity. That equity was built methodically for years and was earned for a reason. BMW still has strengths and amazing ability in many areas, but to me it’s been ruined for years by cashing in the brand with crap FWD models added, fake noise from engines, decontenting the cars with 4-pot engines and turbos, decreasing driving dynamics like not having LSDs, slowly abandoning their own rule book on ergonomics, ever worse plasticky design, constantly increasing size and until now weight, just in general going for exactly what BMW was proudly not: an A to B car to please the masses, the least car-interested plebs…

      It’s crazy to think that I was dead set on BMWs still ten years ago, even about 5 years ago very much, and now I despise that company of fake-engine-sound, only-turbo-engine’d, no-six-pots-for-a-reasonable-price, going-for-FWD, copying-Mercedes-exterior-but-worse, copying-the-worst-ergonomics-failures-from-Audi, let’s-charge-money-for-CarPlay!

      Thank god for FCA with its Alfa Romeo, Abarth, Dodge and Jeep brands!

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Isn’t BMW the company that gave you bluetooth phone for free, but charged $500 if you wanted to listen to music? I guess this is just par for the course.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “The company does have a 240-month plan for $300, but it’s unlikely this will be promoted at dealerships.”

    Lol. One of these new BMWs will likely be the subject of one of Murliee’s “Latest Junkyard Finds” before 120 months are up, let alone 240.

    The whole subscription model really burns me up. Apps on iOS are increasingly of the subscription type, so you can’t just buy something for $20 or $30 outright, especially if includes services like vehicle tracking. Instead, it’s $4.95 a month, or $6.95 a month. Screw that. Even apps like Flightradar24 now want you to sign up for a subscription. No thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Subscription services for apps suck, but from the developement side it makes sense. The hardware and software requirements are constantly changing, thus the app has to be rewritten and updated pretty much yearly. The pay-once model doesn’t give the developer any $$ for this type of work.

      BMW trying to charge monthly for CarPlay is ridiculous, as they only need to follow the protocol to make it work. Now if this price includes updates to future proof compatibility (over the air update) then maybe its worth it. I guess given how many BMWs are leased this new fee will just become hidden in the payments anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        Since I’m working on a mobile social game app, the question of how to generate enough revenue to make it worthwhile is a burning question.

        Subscription works when you continue to deliver new content (as my app will) . Of course, there has to be a good value for customers.

        I’m looking closely at video subscription services. For example, I find Netflix and Amazon prime to be a food value due to the volume of good content. Despite being a Star Trek fan, I won’t subscribe to the CBS stream because one or two worthwhile shows just aren’t worth the money.

        As others have said, BMW brings nothing of value to this equation and, hopefully they will pay for this arrogance.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    “BMW is Going to Nickel-and-dime You to Death”

    Havent they been doing that for decades by now?

  • avatar
    qwerty shrdlu

    Class action suit, hell. If BMW is charging people to use Apple’s software and ip without kicking 30% up to Apple, there’s going to be trouble.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    It costs me 0$ to fill the 6 CD changer in my 92 7 series. Times have changed.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      This reminds me of how, for a very long time, you couldn’t even get an OEM in-dash CD player in a Mercedes. The best you could do was a CD changer in the trunk for a hefty premium.

      This was at a time when everyone else (and I do mean ‘everyone’, including the lowliest Chevy Cavalier) had an in-dash CD player as standard equipment.

      The bottom line is it’s very easy to get money out of people who have way too much of it. BMW will charge a subscription for CarPlay simply because there are people who will pay for it.

  • avatar
    honda1

    bmw=over priced junk cars for badge whores.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    A death by a thousand cuts, that is what subscription services are.

  • avatar
    WiggleRock

    Sad, I really like the 2-series but no BMW for me if this goes forward. I thought the CarPlay and Android Auto systems were made to deter people from using their mobile phone while driving? Why would BMW charge people for being safer?

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    @ MidwestTDI
    “Want better mileage then you’ll need to cough up $$$ per year for high efficiency features to be enabled.”

    Throttling down hardware unless one pays an extra fee is something that Internet service providers have already implemented. The modem remains exactly the same, but can be remotely commanded to upgrade/downgrade download speeds.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Isn’t that Tesla’s model?

      “Sure, you could drive 150 miles, but for an extra $5K we’ll tell the battery you can drive 200 miles.”

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Meh, I’ll disagree on that, TMA1 – it’s laid out up front for the buyer, so it’s really not all that different than a Chevy dealer charging X dollars for a base Malibu and $2000 for one with a bigger engine. The buyer knows what he’s getting into upfront. And, honestly, I *like* the idea of being able to upgrade the performance of your existing car by just coughing up some extra dough – you can drive the more basic version, and keep that if it meets your needs, or pay to upgrade otherwise. It’s like an instant engine swap – not such a bad idea, if you ask me.

        But charging money for an app that’s free on 99.9% of the other cars that have it – including a $15,000 Hyundai – is a pure d*ck move.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          “And, honestly, I *like* the idea of being able to upgrade the performance of your existing car by just coughing up some extra dough – you can drive the more basic version, and keep that if it meets your needs, or pay to upgrade otherwise. It’s like an instant engine swap – not such a bad idea, if you ask me.”

          You’ve paid for the hardware. You’ve paid for the development of the features. Now you want to pay again for the privilege of enjoying what you’ve already paid for? It’s too bad that psychiatry isn’t a real thing.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            A shrink would have a four word course of treatment for someone who calls anyone who disagrees with him insane or stupid, all to boost his own ego:

            1) Stop
            2) Being
            3) A
            4) Jerk

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            It could be worse. A shrink could tell me to cut something off because I’m feeling pretty. That’s the state of psychiatry today in a nutshell.

      • 0 avatar
        brn

        TMA1, What you describe is everyone’s model. Navigation exists in my car, but it’s disabled. For the extra $$, Ford would have enabled the feature.

        Windows 10 Pro has the same install media as Windows 10 Home. What features you get, depends on what license you enter.

        The list goes on.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      At least the ISP is charging you for the bandwidth is what you’re paying for. There is an additional cost to give you more bandwidth other than the modem on your end. If everyone had a Guy / sec in your area, they will need to pay for more infrastructure. This is different from unlocking a feature already installed on the car, and paying to be able to use the phone and it’s service.

  • avatar
    saturnotaku

    Microtransactions in our vehicles. BMW has become the Electronic Arts of car companies.

  • avatar
    NG5

    The Toyota Supra is probably going to be the last BMW I have any interest in driving. Weird feeling as someone who grew up with pretty deep attachment to the brand.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    If Hyundai (finally) gets Genesis rolled out, it could really clean up in this market with a value play that avoids this kind of penny-ante bulls**t.

    (And so could Cadillac, by the way.)

    People may have put up with BMW’s nonsense back when the sanely-priced product was great, but as it stands, anything they sell that’s less than $70,000 just isn’t worth it.

    • 0 avatar
      NG5

      To me, as an outside observer, Genesis’ biggest weakness is their engines. BMW is BMW, motorwerks is in the name. Mercedes has AMG, and Toyota is globally known for making invincible powertrains. Genesis seems like an awesome brand, and I love the look of the G70, but what gives it that “special car” feel? I think, though, that if they last long enough to electrify, their excellent design, interiors, and product packaging and price will probably help them catch up or better these other luxury marks across the board.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Most of BMW’s stuff these days is a variation on the 2.0T four-cylinder playbook. BMW’s are better than most (I think Audi’s are better), but even the best four isn’t going to have the “turbine smoothness” of their old straight sixes.

        In any case, though, if Genesis can sell you a G70 with a twin-turbo six that’ll rip to 60 in four and a half seconds, and do it for the same price as a 3-series with a 2.0T, it’ll make up for all kinds of “refinement issues.”

        • 0 avatar
          NG5

          Fair. I’ve heard some complaining about the pervasiveness of their turbo 4, but even then a four cylinder has plenty of heritage with the company. Road and Track, I think, had a feature where they argued that the perfect 2 Series had the four cylinder – not the M2. I’ve not heard similar paeans or debates about Hyundai engines, yet. That said, I’ve heard both personal and journalistic praise for the four cylinder in the N. And personally, I hope someone will kick BMW in the behind and make them fun again.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I don’t think the 3.3T is as good as the BMW I6. However, I also didn’t think the I6 was $12K better. Against the V6s from Mercedes, Jaguar, and Infiniti the H/K engine does fine. YMMV on all that though. The best thing IMO about the Stinger and G70 is that they are very RWD. If you are an AWD shopper I’m not sure how much that would change the driving experience.

        The H/K/G cars are still a value play, but they are at least a *good* value play. If you’re flush enough with cash that spending $10K-$25K more on a similar German car is of no mind then that changes the equation.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      Agreed about Hyundai. I just spent a week behind the wheel of a rented 2019 Santa Fe. I don’t like CUVs, but I must admit that the new Santa Fe is very, very impressive. Great ride, wonderful fit/finish, no rattles, great design, good Android Auto interface (free!) and was great on gas. The price point is in a different league than X3 or X5, but the actual product is in the same league.

      Yes, I agree that BWM and other “premium” mass market automakers would be wise to keep their eyes on their “lower-tier” competitors.

  • avatar
    markf

    “Going to”? BMW has been nickel and diming for a while now. At least since 2006 when I looked at the then new(ish) twin turbo 3 series and they wanted something like $1800 for paint other than standard Red, White or Black

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Another German tax for those who worship thee Germans. Just not that interested in German cars to pay for it or to pay 50k for a car that is expensive to maintain. I’ll take a Japanese and South Korean vehicle over thee Germans.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Gotta love how people are lambasting the lawyers for going after Ford for fraudulently calculating road load for their trucks but people here are wanting a class action lawsuit because of something that is completely voluntary for the consumer to sign up for.

    Also, nothing CarPlay does is worth paying for.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      “nothing CarPlay does is worth paying for.”

      Double this, CarPlay can be extremely annoying, pausing every song everytime I get a text is horrible, there is some good to it but my overall experience was ruined by small things that have no rationale. It seems like it was thrown together as fast as they could with no testing. The absolutely minuscule selection of apps that work with the system is appalling.

      I use it but as great as the maps feature is, being constantly updated as it is, the small things just make the whole program nothing special, if those small issues were fixed and it actually had a good number of apps that could run on it, then I would be buying a couple of head units for my trucks. It’s frustrating having a program so close to perfect ruined by small issues that are extremely annoying.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Android Auto can glitch out as well, but that could be your humble narrator’s life choice of buying a $60 cheapo Virgin Mobile phone versus a $1,000 Iphone.

        (Call me a skinflint, but I’m paying $35 a month for unlimited data, and I don’t really need a fancy phone, so good luck to Sprint/Verizon/etc when they try to rope me into a contract plan for a hundred bucks a month…)

        Overall, though, I really like how Android Auto works. I wish my car had it – I prefer the Google maps to Audi’s, and being able to control streaming music through your car, versus having to futz with your phone, is really nice.

        • 0 avatar
          jalop1991

          @FreedMike:

          No one NEEDS Android Auto/Apple Carplay.

          You can pay $100 for a refurbished Garmin with absolutely superb voice control and lifetime maps, and just use that. I’m a big fan of sat-nav as a unitasker. Put it up high in easy view while you’re looking out the windshield, and you can see it doing exactly one thing for you: navigation.

          As for controlling streaming music through your car, just Bluetooth your phone to the car and use whatever app you have. The car’s controls will do a great job with it. I don’t have a bit of problem doing that with my GTI. Just start the program, put the phone down, and drive while the program does its thing. Use the skip button to skip to the next piece. Use the pause button to pause. Easy.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        “pausing every song everytime I get a text is horrible”

        Either that’s something specific to the implementation in your car, or a bug that was fixed a long time ago, because I don’t recall texts ever interrupting music playback using CarPlay in my car.

        Which is not to say that it’s perfect, but that specific problem is not one I recognize.

        In any case, there’s a huge overhaul coming with iOS 13:

        https://www.theverge.com/2019/6/24/18693555/apple-ios-13-carplay-interface-update-hands-on-test-review

        It certainly gets updates more often than my car.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    My ’19 Lexus IS300 comes with 1 year paid subscription to the Lexus Enform app. It lets you check on the status of fluids, maintenance, and you can lock and unlock the doors plus start and turn off the car. So if I really want to warm the car up in winter, it’s going to cost me. There’s no other option to remote start the car other than the app.

  • avatar

    I have both CarPlay and Android Auto in my car and it is free. But that is Ford. BMW is a German company and as such you have to pay premium. In other words – you pay premium for German technology. It always was like that and people happily paid premium for anything German.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Carplay tech was developed in northern California, not Munich.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      VW is a German company, and as such you…don’t have to pay any kind of premium. Android Auto and Apple Carplay are on every car they sell, from the absolute cheapest on up.

      No premium, no having to buy the highest model, no subscription….just plug in your phone and go.

      Gots to love VW here on this.

  • avatar

    People are stupid, I know that.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    I’d pay more for a vehicle with Android Auto than one without. I would not pay a subscription fee for Android Auto. Not the most rational approach perhaps.
    If I was in the market for a BMW I would be negatively influenced by the subscription fee.

  • avatar
    ABC-2000

    This is super stupid!
    I am driving my second Accord with Apple car play as standard equipment and here is some rental cars I had with apple car play:
    Opel Corsa (super cheap car)
    Ford Explorer
    Chevy Equinox
    Dodge Durango

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    This explains the puzzling line about the new Supra’s 4 years of free Apple Carplay this morning.

    So if automakers decide to be like airlines and start charging us for features that used to be free, how is that going to play with the public that a $60K Bimmer charges for the same feature that a $20K Hyundai gives their customers for free? I’d expect Carplay to be ignored as much as Sirius XM if subscriptions become the industry standard, where the average Chevy Equinox or Ford Escape buyer will decide he can live without it.

    • 0 avatar
      vent-L-8

      It reminds me of how when I stay at a discount hotel (Red Roof, Motel 6 etc) the internet access is free but if I stay at a higher end “luxury” hotel there is a $25/day WiFi fee to the room.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    Well, looks my BMW will not be getting replaced by another one.

  • avatar

    I have Car Play in my current ride. I’m not as impressed as I thought I’d be. OK, I’m comparing it to the MB system, which is very good and incorporates real time traffic alerts…but really, if you have a hands free bluetooth and a nav system, unless you are a total waze addict, it doesn’t add as much as folks make out. I have seen many forum posts where folks go crazy trying to get Carplay on their current ride…big whoop. I think the real surprise will be how few folks sign up if the rest of the car has nav + bluetooth anyway.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    You know what I haven’t seen mentioned here is the notion that CarPlay is supposed to be a safety feature, not just a convenience. Lots of people (especially 2nd/3rd owners) would rather hold their phone in one hand than pay to use the infotainment system. If enough people cared, this is the sort of thing that shames companies into changing policies after blowing up on social media.

    • 0 avatar
      Lockstops

      BMW’s have phone integration features as a separate thing to CarPlay. You usually get bluetooth connectivity including hands free for free (included in one of the standard feature packages) at least in Europe, but CarPlay is something you have to add on top of that. That’s why I don’t really care about this except on principle: I don’t need CarPlay for anything, I’ve used my iPhone perfectly well with my BMW without CarPlay so far.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        Every other automaker has the same thing, but they also (mostly) offer CarPlay for free.

        The cheapest car in American (the Nissan Versa Note S) has bluetooth integration in its base features.

  • avatar
    Lockstops

    A bit of background on this: BMW is replacing iDrive with the new BMW Cockpit. They’re calling it ‘the last UI system’ as the logic is that from now on any car you buy with the BMW Cockpit will be updatable, not to be replaced by a new system, and all new UI systems will be compatible.

    BMW Cockpit has been released in the new G20 3-series, G29 Z4, G05 X5, and G14 8-series.

    The good thing will probably be that when your BMW Cockpit -equipped cars are old their UI will not be antiquated but instead might actually be kept up-to-date for pretty long.

    The bad thing is that you’ll probably have to pay for your old car’s UI to be up-to-date, and will have to pay subscription fees for many features.

    (Then again my Mercedes is currently at the dealer having a software update done on it because I bought it in another EU country and even though it’s ‘Europe-wide service’ they’re still charging me 130€ for the update so that the calls will go by default to my home country’s service center instead of the service centre of the country I bought it from. BMW doesn’t charge a dime for that, and BMWs don’t even require a software update on the car, they do the change somewhere in the system on their end.)

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      “the logic is that from now on any car you buy with the BMW Cockpit will be updatable, not to be replaced by a new system, and all new UI systems will be compatible.”

      That sounds nice, in theory, but I’m highly skeptical they’ll actually provide any updates beyond the first few years. How much of their target customer base actually keeps their cars long enough to care?

      My money is on the updates disappearing (but the subscription fees continuing) within a year or two after the model (or maybe the control module?) being discontinued.

      • 0 avatar
        Lockstops

        I’m expecting the updates to continue, but for any meaningful features to cost some money (not necessarily much, but it would irk me to pay any extra money to keep an old, cheap car’s infotainment system up to date…).

        Above all with the BMW Cockpit strategy any new features they come up with later on they can now sell to owners of older cars too. There are a hell of a lot more owners of BMWs than they sell new cars per year! This in my view is the main purpose of it: they’re going to keep spending on development of an ‘entertainment and service platform’ (not just upkeep but increase in features, value for customers etc.) and that will keep costing them money, this will allow them to keep making money on what they develop.

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          I get the idea, but I’m skeptical that they can pull it off.

          Think of it this way: the infotainment system in most cars is equivalent, performance wise, to a tablet computer like an iPad. That’s an oversimplification, but it’s not far off.

          As I understand it, BMW isn’t quite done rolling out the G20 3 series, with a few F30 models still being built. The first F30 rolled off the line sometime in 2012.

          So — cars today are rolling off the line with ~7 year old computers in their dash, or at least computers hemmed in by 7 year old design constraints.

          In that time period, Apple has released 8 generations of iPad; the current iPad Pro benchmarks approximately 15 times faster than the “Early 2012” model. An iPad 2 from 2012 hasn’t seen software updates since 2016. And Apple actually has one of the best track records with device updates.

          There’s only two ways BMW can do better than that: somehow manage to be better at building computers than the computer industry, or intentionally handicap its future cars to maintain compatibility with older ones. Frankly, I don’t see either of those as realistic.

          I think what you’re more likely to see is a car that gets meaningful updates for as long as the typical lease, and no more.

          (Now, if they were talking about allowing *hardware* updates — say, a replaceable computer module — that would be another thing altogether. But that’s not what this sounds like.)

          • 0 avatar
            jalop1991

            @dtremit:

            I would more quickly buy into a car where they promised nothing more than easy hardware swaps down the road, say for their “infotainment” module.

            “We’ve standardized the physical space and connections into the car; we realize that things will change, but as long as we build better/faster/more capable infotainment systems that can physically fit into the space, we will support the screens and buttons that we built into your car”. That’s a real world message.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      @Lockstops:

      “They’re calling it ‘the last UI system’ as the logic is that from now on any car you buy with the BMW Cockpit will be updatable, not to be replaced by a new system, and all new UI systems will be compatible.”

      um, I would have you go look up Mitsubishi’s Promise Module.

      Then come back and tell us, with complete confidence, your story about how this will all work.

      Good judgment comes from experience. And do you know where experience comes from? That’s right–bad judgment.

      Buying into BMW’s talk track on that is the absolute height of bad judgment.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    If I’m not mistaken, you’re not paying a subscription to CarPlay, you are paying for the internet connection, which I would not expect to be free as BMW would have to pay a cellular provider for the data connection to their WAN.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      CarPlay and Android Auto both work off your mobile device, so the fee is probably to “unlock” the apps in the car.

    • 0 avatar
      Lockstops

      Car manufacturers have to pay minuscule amounts for the data (packaged, very small amount of data). In return they get to sell the data and use it in their own research. I know for a fact that car companies have _mountains_ of data that they don’t even know what to do with already today, imagine what they’re gathering now with their newest systems…

      With CarPlay you pay for unlocking CarPlay, just as FreedMike says (except that it’s to unlock the whole CarPlay interface, at least many if not all apps work without CarPlay, at least that’s how it was a year ago). It’s a way to charge money for an extra feature, and they’ve determined that the consumer group who want CarPlay are ready to pay that much money for it. I think it’s too much of a stereotype, calling Apple users prepared to pay too much for something. But that’s what they’re going with, we’ll see how that works for them.

      • 0 avatar
        Master Baiter

        “Car manufacturers have to pay minuscule amounts for the data (packaged, very small amount of data)”

        Depends on what you’re doing with the internet connection. If you are streaming HD movies from Netflix, it’s not a minuscule amount of data.

  • avatar
    sckid213

    BMW officially jumped the shark to me this past weekend when an M340 (or whatever) X3 drove by me in a parking lot with fake exhaust crackles at max volume.

    This announcement — essentially, that they are doubling down on nickel and diming their customers — is just nail in the coffin.

  • avatar

    Guys calm down, that is how it works in Europe – you have to pay for these kind of perks. We are lucky that search engine was invented in USA and not in Europe. If it was invented in Europe it would be ad free, no privacy intrusion,, no data mining but you had to pay subscription fee or even better – pay higher taxes since technology would be invented by Allmighty Government. Minitel anyone? Internet was invented not by Al Gore but by François Mitterrand.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I mean, it was standard in my Fiesta but whatever.

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