BMW has apparently reversed course on its decision to charge customers a subscription fee to use CarPlay in their vehicles.
The German automaker is probably making a smart move here, since the annual $80 subscription (or $300 one-time upgrade) proved to be controversial and highly unpopular among BMW owners.
At the time, it essentially meant that BMW was the only car manufacturer in the world to have turned CarPlay into a subscription service.
But now, a BMW spokesperson told UK website Autocar that CarPlay will now be offered for free in vehicles that run the latest version of its ConnectedDrive infotainment system.
Anyone who owns a 2019 or 2020 BMW, or anyone who currently pays for CarPlay on a recurring basis, will no longer need to fork out any cash to use the infotainment system.
It’s worth noting that if you buy a BMW model that doesn’t run the latest version, like an i3, i8, or older 2 series and 3 series models, you’ll still have to pay for CarPlay. Luckily, it’s now a one-time upgrade fee of £235 (in the UK) instead of an annual subscription.
Unfortunately, users who have already paid for the annual subscription won’t be getting a refund. They won’t have to pay any additional fees, however.
According to Autocar, the change will become effective in the UK first before rolling out to other countries. But another BMW spokesperson told The Verge that it would also apply to U.S. customers, too.
As for why BMW first decided to turn CarPlay into a subscription in the first place, it isn’t clear. But, like retailers and mobile payment systems, carmakers have long tried to drag their feet on adopting systems made by Apple and Google.
Apple doesn’t charge carmakers a fee to implement CarPlay into their vehicles. But there are, of course, some costs associated with adding CarPlay to an infotainment system.
Despite that, most CarPlay-supporting automakers actually offer the system for free or just incorporate the cost into the list or upgrade price. As we noted at the time, if BMW just raised their cars’ price by $300 from the get-go, no one likely would have noticed.