It’s a Subscription… For Your Toyota

Year after year we are being pushed into a culture of renting. We don't own things like purchased movies, digital video games, Kindle books, and lots of software. Car manufacturers, smelling blood in the water, are looking to cash in with subscription services too.

Enter Toyota who includes a remote start feature on many cars since 2018. If you're one of those lucky owners, Toyota can require a subscription after a trial to continue using this part of your car. If you don't, it gets disabled.

A Toyota spokesperson confirmed to The Drive that if a 2018 or later Toyota is equipped with Toyota's Remote Connect functions, the vehicle must be enrolled in a valid subscription (whether it be a free trial period or otherwise) in order for the key fob to start the car. It's become more common in recent years for automakers to charge for apps that allow drivers to monitor, lock, or start their cars with their smartphones. But as far as we can tell, Toyota's the first company to charge for full use of your physical key fob—either $8 a month or $80 a year at the Remote Connect plan's current price.

Rob Stumpf writing for The Drive

So after buying your car, and likely well within the time prior to paying off the loan, you will need to pony up a $80 recurring fee to Toyota to pay for something that is physically located inside your vehicle. A vehicle you own. A vehicle in which you own those components that are being actively disabled. Given the growing momentum of Right to Repair, I can easily see a secondary market crop up wherein tinkerers and curious minds learn how this works and disable the lockouts. Further, it doesn't take a large mental leap to envision these components being hacked or bypassed so a traditional remote start modules can be used.