We’re entering the era of connected cars, or vehicles that have services that always need to be on. And you know what this means: subscriptions. That’s right. Automakers are doing whatever they can to keep making money off you long after your car payments have stopped. Not all automakers are coming for your wallet right away. Automotive News reports that, starting in 2023, buyers of new Toyota and Lexus vehicles will get a 10-year free trial period for the company’s Safety Connect and Service Connect systems.
As long as you equip your new Toyota or Lexus with the company’s new infotainment system, you get 10 years free. What do these systems include? Any connected service that has an actual human or human interaction behind it. That means stolen vehicle locator, alerts for vehicle service and health, auto collision notification, and roadside assistance.
It seems though that Toyota may have changed its tune after seeing the blowback that subscription services were getting, especially after GM announced that it was going to change customers’ $1,500 upfront for its OnStar subscription. Previously, Toyota’s connected services trial period was one year, and then a subscription plan after that. Toyota group vice president Steve Basra believes that automakers have a duty to offer these services to consumers saying, “I think it’s our duty as OEMs that we provide this, where the customer doesn’t have to think about them, doesn’t have to subscribe to them, and we’ve figured out a way to do that, because it contributes to society.”
Don’t think that any of this means that Toyota isn’t on board with subscriptions, however. The revenue from these connected services subscriptions goes to paying for and maintaining these call centers. But Basra has prioritized safety-connected systems, saying he doesn’t think people should pay for that. At least initially.