You Might Soon Incur Charges for Car Features Alongside Your Gym and Netflix Subscription

Toyota Key Fob subscription for Remote start 6 photos
Photo: YouTube Screenshot/TheStraightPipes
Toyota is the first maker to charge a subscription for full use of your car’s key fobCarPlay function in a BMW carToyota is the first maker to charge a subscription for full use of your car’s key fobToyota is the first maker to charge a subscription for full use of your car’s key fobToyota is the first maker to charge a subscription for full use of your car’s key fob
When Netflix jumped on the subscription business, no one knew it would turn out to be a multi-billion industry. And ever since, just about any Tom, Dick and Harry is looking to sell you something at a subscription fee, from Yoga classes, recipes, podcasts, and more recently your loyal auto manufacturer. In the future, your car might have weaker performance, charge slower, or fail to turn on the stereo due to a canceled subscription.
You probably have a few subscriptions loaded on your credit card, not a big deal, right? Well, you might soon add your vehicle’s camera, heater, or navigation to that list.

According to a survey conducted by McKinsey, 46% of consumers already pay for an online streaming service, and 15% have an annual subscription to an e-commerce service.

In December, Japanese automotive giant Toyota found themselves in a pickle when news broke that they would be charging their loyal customers a monthly subscription for their key fob’s remote starting feature.

BMW also created a buzz announcing it would charge its consumers a yearly subscription fee of $80 for Android Auto and Apple Car services. That’s not all. They even hinted at doing the same for some of its basic comfort features but later backed down.

Ford came out strongly and stated that subscription for ‘heated seats’ is not their approach. However, CEO Jim Farley told investors that the services could bring in an additional $20 billion annually by 2020. He said subscriptions would make their way to Ford products, customized as software, charged for the usefulness of data, Motor1 reported.

You have to give credit to Tesla, who already made in-roads with subscription services. They are also the first automaker to popularize software updates even after their vehicles have left the production plant.

Tesla initiated the subscription model with its FSD (full Self-Driving) package that costs $199 per month, initially offered at a $10,000 one-off fee. Tesla owners still have a chance to cancel their subscriptions.

Over the last few years, auto manufacturers have set up plans to transform the industry from a ‘product’ industry to a ‘product and service’ industry. As we move to electrification, the notion of new tech may pose new opportunities for manufacturers to rip maximum benefits from subscription offering connected services.
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About the author: Humphrey Bwayo
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Humphrey is a car enthusiast whose love and passion for automobiles extended into collecting, writing, driving, and working on cars. He got his passion for cars from his Dad, who spent thousands of hours working on his old junky 1970 E20 Toyota Corolla. Years later, he would end up doing the same with a series of lemons he’s owned throughout his adult life.
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