Subscription services are the bleak future of the auto industry.
A Toyota spokesperson confirmed in various media that users of Toyota vehicles built from 2018 onwards will not be able to start their car with their key fob if they do not pay for the company's subscription service. Photo: Unsplash
LatinAmerican Post| Juan Manuel Londoño
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A few days ago, Toyota made one of the strangest (and most unexpected) announcements we've seen in the tech world this year. A Toyota spokesperson confirmed in various media that users of Toyota vehicles built from 2018 onwards that are equipped with Toyota's Remote Connect functions will not be able to start their car with their key fob if they do not pay for the company's subscription service. These users, who probably didn't even realize this feature was part of a subscription package, will have to pay Toyota $ 8 a month to access this and other features.
The strange thing is that there are Toyota models that will have this function but they will not have to pay for it. According to ars technica, there are models built before November 12, 2018, that have this functionality and that they will maintain it without any problem. The reason is that these cars use 3G chips that can no longer be used to subscribe to Toyota's Remote Connect.
From owners to subscribers
This decision may seem silly on Toyota's part. However, it is part of a larger trend in the automotive industry to want to incorporate subscription services to various functions in cars.
Volkswagen, for example, has suggested that in the future it could charge for every hour its vehicles are automatically driven. “Autonomous driving, it could be turned on for hours. We assume a price of about seven euros per hour. So if you don't want to drive yourself for three hours, you can do it for 21 euros, ”Klaus Zellmer, Volkswagen brand sales director, told the German newspaper, Die Welt. The argument is that charging for this service could make self-driving models more affordable, compared to the price of a Tesla.
BMW also announced last year that it was considering adding a subscription service to alert the user to speed traps (also known as checkpoints in Latin America). The service would cost $ 25 for 15 months of coverage. The irony is that the Waze app, which is completely free, already offers this functionality. BMW itself has considered charging for active cruise control and heated seats.
Recall that the same Tesla, sold by many as the future of the industry, limited the battery of its S 70 model in 2016. The battery they sold was 70 kWh, but users could pay $ 3,250 to "unlock" 5 kWh additional.
The truth is that little by little we will see how we must pay for more and more functions that are included in our vehicles (although the user will continue to pay for the additional gasoline that it costs to carry these components that they are not using). We are gradually moving towards a future in which we will not be the owners, but the tenants of our own vehicles. Although for now the functions in focus are secondary, no one knows how far the greed of these companies can go.