More Cars With More Subscriptions

I wish this wasn't the first time I had to talk about cars with subscriptions to unlock technology already built into your car, but here we are. In the spotlight is once again BMW which is now forcing subscriptions to unlock the stuff in the (very expensive) car you already bought. Brad Anderson at Car Scoops has more.

The marque has revealed that five vehicle features are now available through its subscription service, consisting of Remote Engine Start, Drive Recorder, Traffic Camera, Driving Assistance Plus with Stop&Go, and Parking Assistant Professional.

Most of these features are available through either a 1-month, 1-year, or 3-year subscription, or can be purchased outright for a one-time fee. Motorauthority reached out to BMW USA and found that the Remote Engine Start costs $10 for 1 month, $105 for 1 year, $250 for 3 years, or can be purchased for $330 for the life of the vehicle.


There are a total of five features you have the pleasure of paying for on an ongoing basis as a valued "BMW customer". While something like a remote start feature could be a feature that relies on cellular technology (which incurs a cost for BMW) the rest are complete nonsense that absolutely doesn't have a reliance on such systems.

I want to be angry at BMW for this but the only way for car manufacturers to stop doing this is to have their customers reject it at all costs. I don't know if that will happen. Even worse is the fact that cars aren't lowering in price because of this, like what has happened with the price of TVs in the last decade.

As I have said every time this topic comes up, this will sprout a cottage industry of people who "jailbreak" their cars and begin tinkering with the onboard software to unlock these things. And as the owner of a car where you also own those locked components, I think you are well within your rights to tinker and enable them as one sees fit.