BMW cancels its ridiculous CarPlay subscription fee for new vehicles

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BMW cancels its ridiculous CarPlay subscription fee
BMW was the only automaker to charge for CarPlay.
Photo: Apple

BMW has confirmed that it is ditching its ridiculous policy of charging an annual subscription fee for Apple’s CarPlay.

Yesterday, I wrote about how BMW was rumored to be getting rid of subscription fees in the UK. Now it seems that BMW has confirmed that the changes are confirmed. And, yes, they cover the US as well.

BMW’s controversial CarPlay subscription fee

BMW’s decision to charge for CarPlay was always controversial. The automaker took longer than many of is rivals to support CarPlay. When it did, it announced that it was going to charge users $80 per year. It charged $300 for a 240-month subscription.

At the time, my colleague Killian Bell wrote that: “[It’s] a pretty outrageous ask. Especially when you consider that many vehicle manufacturers — even the more affordable ones — now offer CarPlay and Android Auto for free as standard.”

The rationale for BMW charging a fee is that it incurs costs when integrating CarPlay into its existing system. Apple does not charge automakers a subscription fee to adopt CarPlay, however. Other automakers likely factor the cost of CarPlay into their pricing.

It also didn’t help that BMW’s CarPlay system has reportedly been hampered by usability issues. As the website AutoBlog noted, “Making Apple CarPlay wireless was a great idea, but the implementation proved to be problematic.”

According to BMW, the decision to withdraw subscription fees will take place “immediately”. All 2019 and 2020 BMW vehicles equipped with Apple CarPlay will not have to pay an annual subscription. There is not yet clarification on whether people who have already paid will get a refund.

Owners of older cars can pay a discounted fee of $300 for a lifetime subscription to CarPlay.

Upgraded CarPlay on iOS 13

CarPlay recently received some big upgrades when Apple upgraded to iOS 13. The biggest of these is a redesigned dashboard that makes accessing the most useful information and common functions easier. There’s also revamped Apple Music, improved Apple Maps, and more.