Auto makers want a slice of Tesla’s pie, subscription services for everything

People are used to buying cars with a lot of extras, whether for comfort, safety or viewing pleasure. These extras have also been prepaid, for the remaining life of the car, so buyers don’t have to worry about going through the dealership door. Those days are all over now, as Tesla has brought a new reality to the market. All Tesla cars have all the features included, in terms of hardware, but you can only use them all when you pay for them. Again, this can be done up front (like the $ 10,000 Tesla Fully autonomous driving suite) or by using a subscription (which FSD will fall back in the future).

What’s really troubling is that Tesla basically owns the keys to your car, and you’ll be stuck once you don’t pay for the subscription. Tesla also controls which car offers which functionality, so used or salvaged vehicles do not have all the functionality you expect. This can go as far as access to the Supercharger. This degree of control over customers’ cars is something all automakers appreciate, and it’s not at all unexpected that some of them are trying to copy Tesla, clumsily though.

We already know that BMW wanted to charge $ 80 a year for access to Apple CarPlay in their cars, only to turn back the clock after taking a lot of reviews from their customers. Mercedes-Benz charges $ 576 per year in Germany for 10-degree full tilt rear-wheel steering, while Audi also wants $ 85 per month to use the navigation system in newer models. Many of these functions (with the exception of the rear wheel steering in the Mercedes EQS, obviously) are available for free in many moderately priced cars, so you see the conundrum here.

Well, it looks like Toyota wants to participate in the game as well, as some disgruntled customers have found out. The automaker that refused to offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto long after those features were ubiquitous is trying to make a living from subscription services. Well, now comes the fun part, because Toyota wants you to pay a subscription to use the car key fob.

Specifically, in the case of newer Toyota cars equipped with a remote start function, you can only use this function with a Toyota Remote Connect subscription. To be clear, this function is activated via a radio-controlled remote control and it does not require a connection to Toyota’s servers to justify the subscription. Still, Toyota wants you to pay $ 80 per year if you want this feature to work. As far as we know, the Japanese automaker is the first to charge a subscription for full use of your car key fob.

How well that will play out for more traditional automakers is something to be seen. I expect people to punish greedy automakers like they did with BMW. In addition, many features sold as part of a subscription are not really revolutionary or at least useful. And for many, modern smartphones already offer better alternatives.


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