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BMW makes Apple CarPlay a subscription service

Hugo Griffiths 2019-07-23 08:50

Industry first sees BMW charge £85 a year for Apple CarPlay – though a lifetime subscription can be had for £295

BMW has become the first carmaker to make Apple CarPlay a subscription service, with owners wanting to synchronise their iPhone with their car’s infotainment system having to pay £85 a year in order to do so.

The move applies to all new BMWs with the latest 7.0 operating system, first seen on the BMW X5 launched in 2018.

What is Apple CarPlay?

All new BMWs with 7.0 now come with a year’s free CarPlay subscription, but after the first 12 months owners will have to decide whether to allow the subscription to lapse, or pay to continue to access it. If they choose the latter option the firm offers a month’s trial for £1, or owners can pay £85 for a full year, £255 for three years, or £295 for lifetime access to the service.

While the difference between the three-year and lifetime packages may appear negligible, with four-year PCP deals increasingly the norm with new-car buyers, subsequent owners of used BMWs may find themselves having to pay for Apple CarPlay, with BMW receiving multiple CarPlay subscription payments for the same car.

The firm says the new structure applies to around 65 per cent of its current model line-up, though “others will follow in the near future based on model life cycles.”

It claims that this subscription-based model “allows us to keep the initial cost price of the vehicle down since not everyone will use CarPlay, but at the same time for those that do, they have a flexible offer structure after the initial year’s subscription has expired.”

CarPlay is designed to offer a near-handsfree experience for drivers, with the car’s infotainment screen mirroring many aspects of an iPhone’s functionality – bringing apps such as Spotify and Google Maps into the car’s built-in screen, and making them accessible via voice commands.

While BMW’s pricing decision clearly makes shrewd business sense to the manufacturer, owners of an £18,600 Kia Ceed for example get CarPlay (as well as Android Auto, which unavailable in BMWs) included in the price of their car, with no subscription needed whatsoever. Carmakers have to develop CarPlay software integration themselves, but Auto Express understands Apple does not charge licencing fees for the product.

Would you pay for Apple CarPlay? Let us know in the comments section below…

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