Image: TheDrive

Toyota takes subscriptions mainstream with monthly charge for key fob

Image: TheDrive

When you bought an automobile, you used to be able to own every element of it. However, some capabilities are now available on a subscription basis, and while this trend began with luxury companies, it is now spreading to the mainstream, with Toyota adjusting its connected services to the model.

And some of them won’t just be phone-connected apps. According to a report from Jalopnik, if you don’t pay for your Remote Connect membership after the trial period ends, you won’t be able to remotely start your vehicle using the button on your key fob.

You may also use Remote Connect to start the engine, lock or unlock the doors, locate your vehicle in a parking lot, and receive notifications if you’ve lent the vehicle to someone who is speeding in it.

When you buy the vehicle, it’s free for three years, but after that, it’s $9.95 each month plus taxes, billed to your credit card.

Alternatively, you may purchase Drive Connect, which features cloud-based navigation, a Virtual Assistant for basic activities, and an Intelligent Assistant for more complex tasks. [We did a rundown of some of the new features last week. —Ed.]] It requires your phone connection, and it costs $19.95 per month plus taxes beyond the three-year free trial period.

Of course, Toyota isn’t the only one who thinks this way. Most higher-tech semi-autonomous driving aid systems, such as GM’s Super Cruise, Ford’s Blue Cruise, and Tesla’s Full Self-Driving, will need to know your credit card information before they’ll take you where you want to go.

BMW considered charging owners to use Apple CarPlay before abandoning the idea. Instead, the company discussed adding heated seats in its vehicles and then charging a membership to have them warm up.

As they say, you never get something for nothing, but even after you’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on your vehicle, you may still be on the hook in the future if you want everything to work as it did when you first bought it.