Many criticized BMW’s unusual decision to charge its customers an annual subscription fee to use Apple CarPlay. While some feared this would become the norm across the industry, it’s turning out to be a short-lived exception to the rule. Digital Trends has learned that the German company is making the feature free across its range of models starting immediately.
“BMW is always looking to satisfy our customers’ needs, and this policy change is intended to provide them with a better ownership experience,” a company spokesperson told Digital Trends.
The Munich-based automaker previously charged owners $80 annually to use Apple CarPlay, a policy that raised more than a few eyebrows in the automotive industry. Every other company — including BMW’s archrivals, as well as brands like Hyundai that sell much cheaper models — offers the feature for free, though buyers sometimes have to travel up the trim-level hierarchy to unlock it. By aligning itself with its peers, BMW is admirably giving up a potentially significant source of revenue to put one of the most popular tech features within the reach of all its customers.
Digital Trends learned CarPlay will come standard across the board, from the 2 Series Gran Coupe unveiled recently and positioned at the bottom of the BMW lineup, below the 3 Series, to the 7 Series flagship and its Alpina-built derivative. To sweeten the deal, the company’s newest models boast the wireless version of the software. The spokesperson we talked to added that BMW owners currently paying for a subscription will soon receive free, unlimited access to Apple CarPlay. The brand will contact customers to inform them of its decision.
We’ve reached out to Toyota to find out what this means for Supra buyers (the coupe is closely related to the Z4), and we’ll update this story if we learn more. As it stands, Toyota’s born-again sports car comes with free CarPlay for four years.
BMW chose to democratize smartphone connectivity, which is an absolute must as 2020 approaches, and its cars are better for it. Motorists with an Android-powered pocket are still out of luck for the time being, however, because the company told us it has nothing to announce regarding Android Auto availability.