By on December 5, 2019

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]

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7 Comments on “BMW Changes Mind on Apple CarPlay Subscriptions...”

  • avatar

    I would think Apple would be upset at it as well, curious if there was pushback on their end, especially since they aren’t getting a cut of the subscription fee.

    Consumers will start going out of their way to NOT buy Apple CarPlay equipped vehicles if it’s associated with a forced subscription to use the car stereo.

  • avatar

    I would love a subscription service in my next car!
    Blind spot monitoring
    Lane departure warning
    Rear camera
    Auto start/stop

    Since I don’t need/want them, I really do NOT want to pay for them!

  • avatar

    I see a difference at paying for data or function.

    Carplay, whatever ? Yes, it had better hook up and work.

    I understand paying for real time data, that has a lot of work to gather and send. Traffic, weather, sure.

    I’d object to renting a function of the car I paid for. All the buttons need to work. Don’t turn off my smartphone connect.

  • avatar

    The most annoying aspect of this is BMW’s disingenuous response to initial complaints about it – that the fee was needed to maintain & develop their software to be able to continue to support CarPlay. That’s utter BS. CarPlay basically uses the car’s display to mirror your phone, and that’s about it. My 2016 VW has had exactly zero updates from VW and continues to work fine, despite CarPlay being continuously tweaked for the last 4 years. It’s like the car I bought last weekend, advertised at $2200 off lit, but when I asked for an itemized quote, the truth came out – over $2k in “extras” including the audacity to ask $279 for nitrogen in the tires. C’mon automakers & dealers, can we have al little transparency here?

  • avatar

    Dear Automakers,
    I really don’t want to purchase your products and then have to pay multiple monthly subscription fees to use the options that I already paid for. I will make future purchase decisions based, in part, on the need for these subscriptions.
    Someone that buys cars fairly often

  • avatar

    “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

  • avatar

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

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