BMW Changes Mind on Apple CarPlay Subscriptions

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

BMW is walking back its controversial decision to charge an annual subscription for the use of Apple’s CarPlay in its vehicles. We quickly complained about it, worried that it would spur a new trend of charging customers for the privilege of accessing what is normally standard content.

The German manufacturer originally said the subscription fee was necessary in order to offer wireless updates aimed at keeping the user interface evolving with phones. This was soon proven not to be the case, as other manufacturers already offer that exact service for free. BMW wanted to charge $80 a year (or $300 for a 240-month plan) after providing CarPlay free of charge for 12 months. Now, it will be gratis.

The flip was confirmed by AutoCar for the UK market, though a BMW spokesperson confirmed to us that the same will be true in the United States. The only exception will be on older models that have yet to switch over to the brand’s latest operating system (7.0). People buying those cars may still be stuck with the company’s old system of having to make a one-time purchase to access CarPlay — which still kind of sucks.

As to the claim of BMW needing to lock customers into a subscription fee for the privilege of syncing their iPhone with their car, Apple has said it does not charge manufacturers any fees for using CarPlay. Still, this nugget coming to light may not have been the cause of BMW’s change of heart. Most owners we’ve spoken with seem to prefer the manufacturer’s proprietary and much-improved iDrive, since most said they had a compatible phone.

This leaves us wondering how many shoppers even wanted to bother with a CarPlay subscription. Some must have, however, which raises the question of refunds. If you decided to opt in, you might want to ask if you’re entitled to get your money back.

[Image: BMW]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Slavuta Slavuta on Dec 06, 2019

    "This is our new reality" This is not yet a total reality. Camry is still in the old reality, on all subjects - 4cyl, v6, AT

  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Dec 06, 2019

    With the tacked on screen I wouldn't buy the car anyway.

  • Jeff Self driving cars are not ready for prime time.
  • Lichtronamo Watch as the non-us based automakers shift more production to Mexico in the future.
  • 28-Cars-Later " Electrek recently dug around in Tesla’s online parts catalog and found that the windshield costs a whopping $1,900 to replace.To be fair, that’s around what a Mercedes S-Class or Rivian windshield costs, but the Tesla’s glass is unique because of its shape. It’s also worth noting that most insurance plans have glass replacement options that can make the repair a low- or zero-cost issue. "Now I understand why my insurance is so high despite no claims for years and about 7,500 annual miles between three cars.
  • AMcA My theory is that that when the Big 3 gave away the store to the UAW in the last contract, there was a side deal in which the UAW promised to go after the non-organized transplant plants. Even the UAW understands that if the wage differential gets too high it's gonna kill the golden goose.
  • MKizzy Why else does range matter? Because in the EV advocate's dream scenario of a post-ICE future, the average multi-car household will find itself with more EVs in their garages and driveways than places to plug them in or the capacity to charge then all at once without significant electrical upgrades. Unless each vehicle has enough range to allow for multiple days without plugging in, fighting over charging access in multi-EV households will be right up there with finances for causes of domestic strife.
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