BMW To Fleece Drivers In 2019 With $80/Year Subscription Fee For Apple CarPlay

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BMW is well known for nickel and diming customers with outrageously priced option packages. However, BMW's latest boondoggle could be one of its most egregious acts yet -- starting next year, it will begin charging a subscription fee to access Apple CarPlay.

Yes, you heard that correctly. Don Smith, technology product manager for BMW North America, told The Verge that the German auto giant will charge $80 per year to access CarPlay. To help soften the blow somewhat, the company says that the first year of access will be provided for free.

BMW currently charges a flat $300 option fee to enable CarPlay support on 2017+ model year automobiles. To make matters worse, BMW's reasoning for switching to a subscription-based model is quite suspect at this point, with Smith stating, “This allows the customer to switch devices. A lot of people buy [CarPlay] and think it’s okay, but sometimes they stop using it or switch to Android.”

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Well, if BMW would provide access to both CarPlay and Android Auto, this wouldn't even be a problem. Most auto manufacturers offer support for both, and they obviously don't charge subscription fees. What's even more infuriating is the fact that most of the processing involved with CarPlay and Android Auto takes place on your own smartphone, so it's not like BMW is providing its own cloud-based service or telematics to support the features.

BMW counters, however, saying that customers that obtain a BMW with a three- or four-year lease will end up paying less money in the end (when you take into account the free first year). However, if you purchase a BMW instead of leasing, you could end up spending way more money in the long-run. For example, keeping a BMW M3 for 7 years could end up costing you $480 instead of the current $300.

BMWs may be the "Ultimate Driving Machine", but you definitely have to pay to play unless you want a vehicle that is less equipped then your garden variety Honda Civic EX. BMW still has no plans to support Android Auto, although its future vehicles will add in support for both the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.