If you are one of the many Malaysian drivers who loves to tinker with their mobile phones while driving, this story may not be of interest to you. But if you are law-abiding and rely on Apple CarPlay on a BMW (and presumably a MINI too) for proper handsfree operation, this will concern you as BMW will be charging a subscription fee for its use.
Such a move could have industry-wide implications in that Apple CarPlay connectivity (along with Android Auto typically) has always come bundled with the car; the cost of which usually added to the price of the car, or available as an extra one-time cost option, like a rim upgrade or solar tint. BMW is silent on the rationale for making customers pay for something that’s already part of the car, but we suspect the reason for doing so goes beyond just making a quick buck.
The subscription model began rolling out in various markets this week, and the terms and costs vary for different markets. For Malaysia, if you purchase a current model with Apple CarPlay connectivity, the first 6 months of use is free, thereafter you have the option of paying RM 5 for a month’s trial, after which you need to decide whether you want to stump up RM 513 for 12 months, RM 799 for 36 months, or RM 1,899 for an unlimited period.
As for Android smartphone users, current BMW models do not offer Android Auto, though BMW is expected to equip their new models with the feature within the year. So, are we seeing a new ‘trend’ here? Will other manufacturers follow suit? Watch this space.