BMW Wants To Turn Apple CarPlay Into A Subscription Service

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Hey, BMW. Focus here, bud. Look at me. You seem warm. Do you have a fever? Is everything OK? Is there any reason why, in any circumstance, you would think it is normal or acceptable to turn some standard-ass Apple CarPlay software into a subscription? You know this stuff is included on a $17,000 Honda Fit, right?

While a lot of manufacturers stick Apple CarPlay into their vehicles as standard equipment these days, The Verge reports that it’s been a one-time $300 charge for BMW buyers since BMW started offering it on cars with built-in navigation in 2017. But BMW North America’s technology product manager Don Smith told The Verge that’ll change next year, and CarPlay will cost owners $80 a year.

The main reason behind that, apparently, is that $80 annually will be cheaper for people who lease the cars for a couple of years than buying it outright for $300. That reasoning is weak and bad, considering that these cars will be on the road for a lot longer than just their initial lease term—if they’re even leased in the first place. Here are some other very logical reasons, from The Verge:

“This allows the customer to switch devices,” [Smith] said. “A lot of people buy [CarPlay] and think it’s okay, but sometimes they stop using it or switch to Android.” ...

Smith said the new plan would be free for the first year of ownership on a new BMW. After that, owners would be asked to pay $80 per year to keep the service. Over the course of a three or four-year lease, it would still work out to less money than the option is now, he said.


Jalopnik has reached out to BMW to ask how this will work for people who buy used BMWs with CarPlay compatibility, and whether BMW will charge owners who paid the original one-time $300 fee for the annual subscription. We’ve also contacted Apple to see whether this kind of subscription fits into the contractual guidelines for CarPlay since it’s universal Apple software, and whether Apple would get a cut of the subscription fee. We’ll update if we hear back.

Either way, charging annually for Apple CarPlay is lame. Charging for anything is lame, but it’s ultra lame if almost everyone else either offers it standard or for a one-time fee. If tons of entry-level cars with starting prices in the teens throw any kind of software in as standard, BMWs should probably do the same.


The Verge reports that BMW also doesn’t offer the Android equivalent to CarPlay, Android Auto, so at least Apple and Android owners can all agree on one thing: being mad at BMW.