Seems like high-end IT companies aren’t the only ones looking to profit from software. As part of a larger linked services subscription, Toyota has been testing remote start features on proximity key fobs.
A Toyota spokesperson stated that if a 2018 or later Toyota is equipped with Toyota’s Remote Connect capabilities, the vehicle must be enrolled in a valid subscription for the key fob to start the car remotely.
Remote start is a component of the wider Connected Services car service suite. I’m not sure why Toyota opted to bundle remote start with other services. But, whether you like it or not, using the fob to start your car will cost you $8 per month or $80 per year.
The Remote Connect services come with a three-year trial period, albeit the length of that trial is dependent on the car’s audio package. Even more confusing, only specific Toyota automobiles are compatible with the Audio Plus or Premium Audio packages included in the free trial, as you can see here.
After three years, a subscription will be required. And the services vary depending on the type of car. For example, automobiles equipped with Audio Plus have a three-year trial term, while Premium Audio vehicles get a ten-year trial period.
However, on Toyota’s Remote Connect page, it’s not clear whether the key fob’s remote start functionality is included in the subscription plan. The Remote Connect service enables users to start their vehicles using their smartwatches, smart home devices, or smartphones. Still, the company has not mentioned using the key fob for remote starts.
Of course, Toyota isn’t the only company that follows this strategy. For example, BMW charged owners an annual membership fee on top of the $300 expense for installing Apple Car Play in 2018. Similarly, Cadillac charges $25 per month for its hands-free driving feature, Super Cruis, after the free trial period expires.
Even though you paid tens of thousands of dollars for your vehicle, you may be on the hook in the future if you want everything to work as it did when you purchased it.