by CORY GUNTHER
The era of having to pay for features that used to come standard on your vehicle are making their way to Toyota’s lineup. We recently learned that Toyota would start charging customers to enjoy one of the best and most convenient, yet standard, features of the key fob: remote start.
According to a report from The Drive, select Toyota models released in 2018 or newer will soon lose remote start functionality on the key fob, unless owners begin paying an $8 per month subscription fee for Toyota’s Connected Services package. To be clear, we’re not talking about the app-based remote start, but the ability to simply remote start your vehicle with your keys from inside the house on a cold winter morning. Yes, something we’ve all done hundreds of times will soon cost you.
To be fair, this is nothing new in the auto industry, but Toyota is taking things too far. In 2018, BMW made customers pay to “unlock” Apple Car Play but later reversed that decision. BMW still has several microtransactions and subscription fees for features, as do Cadillac, Porsche, and Tesla, to name a few; however, most of those are for added safety, hands-free driver-assist modes, and things of that nature.
With Toyota, buyers have several connected options to choose from when purchasing a new vehicle. Unfortunately, one of those services — called Remote Connect — which works with phones, smartwatches, and apps, also happens to tie into the key fob.
Even though the key fob uses the same proximity-based radio frequencies to remote start as it does to lock or unlock the doors, the feature got combined into the Connected Services package. It won’t work without an active subscription.
It’s worth noting that most Toyota vehicles released between 2018-2020 came with a free 3-year trial of these features. Now, after those three years are up, you’ll have to subscribe to Toyota’s Connected Services package to continue using key fob remote start. The Connected Services suite of vehicle services includes the remote start, safety assistance, vehicle service updates, in-vehicle Wi-Fi, etc., so it’s still pretty nice to have.
It looks like many 2020 and newer Toyota’s come with a 10-year trial, meaning these features are free for 10 years, but that’s only on select models. So basically, it’s a bit muddy who does or does not have to pay for what many consider to be a basic, standard feature.
Either way, if your vehicle is equipped with Toyota’s Remote Connect functions, it must be enrolled in a valid subscription to enjoy this feature, whether that’s free or paid. So while most vehicles have a 3-10 year trial, where it’ll be free, this is still a bit ridiculous.
via The Verge