Image: Toyota

Being nickel and dimed by software companies is nothing new, but certain members of the auto industry have also been eager to tap into the profitability of subscription services.

As spotted by The Drive, Toyota has doubled down on its Connected Services platform, which includes one of their vehicles’ most often used and practical functions: remote start. Marketing materials shared by Toyota confirm that after a certain period of ownership, owners will need to pay a subscription fee just to start their cars from a distance, such as in the comfort of their homes.

The subscription for Remote Connect (i.e., remote start) costs $8 a month or $80 per year, according to Toyota’s Connected Services table.

As reported by The Drive:

[…] A Toyota spokesperson confirmed to The Drive that if a 2018 or later Toyota is equipped with Toyota’s Remote Connect functions, the vehicle must be enrolled in a valid subscription in order for the key fob to start the car remotely. To be clear, what we’re talking about is the proximity-based RF remote start system, where you press a button on the fob to start the car while outside of it within a certain distance—say, from your front door to warm up your vehicle in the driveway on a cold morning before you get in. Your fob uses radio waves to communicate with the car, and no connection back to Toyota’s servers is needed. But the function will not work without a larger Remote Connect subscription.

“Key Fob Remote Start will not function if Connected Services are waived,” Toyota states. Remote Connect equipped vehicles built before November 12, 2018, no longer require a subscription for the key fob to perform a remote start, however.

Source: Toyota (via The Drive)

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21 Comments

  1. This is not new. OnStar was free for the first five years I owned my GMC, then I had to pay a subscription fee to continue the service … basic key fob features that include remote locking/unlocking and starting the vehicle.

  2. [QUOTE=”Ditchinit, post: 45077, member: 4253″]
    OnStar was free for the first five years I owned my GMC, then I had to pay a subscription fee to continue the service
    [/QUOTE]
    I wonder how much of the “service revenue” car manufacturers are claiming is actually from this; You get the service unlocked for the first X years. The price seems free, but the price for those first X years is baked into the purchase price so the manufacturer gets to claim that as service revenue, even though you haven’t actually subscribed to anything yet.

    I mean, in a “normal” car the price is baked into the overall price anyway… I’m sure they aren’t giving away the hardware for free and counting on service revenue to pay for the modem and stuff…

    Frustrating… it would go away if people wouldn’t buy into it.

  3. I work for Ford, and we have a feature/app called Fordpass that is very similar to this and is free to use. You get your normal key fobs, but have the ability on the app to remote start and unlock/lock the vehicle. Some higher end vehicles still have the manual remote start on the key fob itself. Not sure why some of these companies feel the need to charge consumers for this feature.

  4. FCA has Uconnect Remote. Paid service that allows lock/unlock, remote start and sending nav data to your vehicle from your phone. You also get traffic, weather and a bunch of other stuff on the head unit. It’s optional though. All 3 of my vehicles remote start works via the fob without the subscription service.

    I’d never pay for a function that has been free for decades. Nor would I buy from a brand that tried to do such things.

  5. And to top it off, this doesn’t mean they are going to support you for longer due to the subscription service. As Toyota already stated that when 3G goes away older cars remote functionality will seize to function. And you can’t even pay to have it upgraded. So cars as recent as 2018 will soon lack functionality you paid for when you bought it.

    I was never a big Toyota fan, but this puts them on the list of worst companies as far as I’m concerned. Next to Apple, google, epic. Congratulations I guess, toyota, you made the big leagues.

  6. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 45095, member: 1298″]
    And to top it off, this doesn’t mean they are going to support you for longer due to the subscription service. As Toyota already stated that when 3G goes away older cars remote functionality will seize to function. And you can’t even pay to have it upgraded. So cars as recent as 2018 will soon lack functionality you paid for when you bought it.

    I was never a big Toyota fan, but this puts them on the list of worst companies as far as I’m concerned. Next to Apple, google, epic. Congratulations I guess, toyota, you made the big leagues.
    [/QUOTE]

    Interesting… Toyota is known for over building their vehicles… for reliability. Now if this is just for phone app ability after x years of service fine I don’t care. They have to maintain servers programing and infrastructure to support it and with how reliable Toyotas are touted to be it makes sense otherwise every car that sold thst outlasted ther built in cost would be a drain on profits.

  7. [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 45133, member: 215″]
    Interesting… Toyota is known for over building their vehicles… for reliability. Now if this is just for phone app ability after x years of service fine I don’t care. They have to maintain servers programing and infrastructure to support it and with how reliable Toyotas are touted to be it makes sense otherwise every car that sold thst outlasted ther built in cost would be a drain on profits.
    [/QUOTE]
    You don’t need to maintain any servers for the remote fob to work. It’s RF. This is pure greed and a statement that you don’t actually own the car you paid for.

    As for older cars, the point was that they refuse to support them even if you are willing to pay. As soon as it becomes inconvenient. Also in which universe can you consider a car made in 2018 to be outlasted their expected lifetime?

  8. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 45134, member: 1298″]
    You don’t need to maintain any servers for the remote fob to work. It’s RF. This is pure greed and a statement that you don’t actually own the car you paid for.

    As for older cars, the point was that they refuse to support them even if you are willing to pay. As soon as it becomes inconvenient. Also in which universe can you consider a car made in 2018 to be outlasted their expected lifetime?
    [/QUOTE]

    If you’re going to say I am wrong at least respond to what I actually said. I said if this is just for phone app functionality to unlock or start your car I don’t care. I never said key fob. One requires the internet the other is a rf signal.

    Now according to the article the turning off remote start functionality for key fobs without a subscription is bullshit 100% and a purely punitive action by Toyota. If interested a buyer I would require a lifetime sub be thrown in as part of my purchase.

  9. [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 45142, member: 215″]
    Now according to the article the turning off remote start functionality for key fobs without a subscription is bullshit 100% and a purely punitive action by Toyota. If interested a buyer I would require a lifetime sub be thrown in as part of my purchase.
    [/QUOTE]
    Hmm, so how do they turn off the RF fob without a connection? Or is it on a timer and needs to connect and verify a subscription to refresh the timer, I wonder.

  10. [QUOTE=”Brian_B, post: 45150, member: 96″]
    Hmm, so how do they turn off the RF fob without a connection? Or is it on a timer and needs to connect and verify a subscription to refresh the timer, I wonder.
    [/QUOTE]
    Like… I don’t know… if someone were to go in and say… pull the SIM card that puts that vehicle on the internet… would all other functions still work that are not internet connected?

    This makes me dread more modern vehicles even more. Is an internet connection required for them to run over x period of time? At some point with no connectivity will features stop functioning?

    How about a law that says you can not sell any durable goods product (vehicles appliances and such) with planned feature degradation due to lack of connectivity to external sources. Meaning if your dish washer has a internet connection to log service records or whatever you can’t just turn it off due to lack of connectivity to the internet. If your water heater has an internet connection you can’t disable it if that go’s away. (just got one installed at home that has internet management). Things of that nature. Your car remotes features can’t be disabled for lack of internet functionality.

    After purchase addon features like being able to remote call your car, start your car, send it to pick up groceries and things like that sure that needs a sub. But the rest does not, things native to the car your purchased and it’s remote can not be shut off for lack of connectivity.

    That seems like a fair law to me. What do you all think?

  11. [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 45151, member: 215″]
    That seems like a fair law to me. What do you all think?
    [/QUOTE]
    Hmm.

    I don’t like “subscriptions”, but I don’t think it’s anything illegal – just frustrating. I do think any feature that are subscription based should be clearly spelled out and terms made readily available, not hidden in the fine print. At least you’d go in with open eyes, and could use it as a negotiation lever.

    Let the market fight out if that business model is really a winner or not – if people understand what they are buying into, and have options to do otherwise, maybe manufacturers will get the hint if it starts to hurt sales or public relations.

  12. [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 45142, member: 215″]
    If you’re going to say I am wrong at least respond to what I actually said. I said if this is just for phone app functionality to unlock or start your car I don’t care. I never said key fob. One requires the internet the other is a rf signal.

    Now according to the article the turning off remote start functionality for key fobs without a subscription is bullshit 100% and a purely punitive action by Toyota. If interested a buyer I would require a lifetime sub be thrown in as part of my purchase.
    [/QUOTE]
    Two separate points. One is that the key fob that they require a subscription for as per the article. The other was that if you happen to have a 3 year old car you can’T use the online functionality after 3g is disabled by providers, even if you bought the car with a supposed 10 year “trial”.

  13. [QUOTE=”Dogsofjune, post: 45157, member: 168″]
    Subscriptions are for magazines, not cars….. Or OS’s
    [/QUOTE]
    Definitely not for software, but for cars a subscription service could actually work. I don’t necessarily want to own a daily driver, I just want one to be available to me. If I can have that it would be great. Like a rental service where the car is dropped off in 5 minutes wherever you want it, and you can hire it for 10 minutes, or an hour, not for days.

  14. But, software does indeed have subscriptions, and MS has talked about doing it as well, I personally am not interested in a subscription for my vehicle. Despite Tesla and other companies trying to push it.
    I’d be happy riding a bicycle if it doesn’t cost me extra above maintenance, insurance, and fuel. It’s expensive enough driving a car these days

  15. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 45134, member: 1298″]
    You don’t need to maintain any servers for the remote fob to work. It’s RF. This is pure greed and a statement that you don’t actually own the car you paid for.

    As for older cars, the point was that they refuse to support them even if you are willing to pay. As soon as it becomes inconvenient. Also in which universe can you consider a car made in 2018 to be outlasted their expected lifetime?
    [/QUOTE]

    Even if they did have to maintain servers it would be total bullshit.

    If you get free access to cloud instances for life included with a goddamn $8 “smart” lightbulb, it better damn well be included free for life with a $55k car.

  16. [QUOTE=”Dogsofjune, post: 45163, member: 168″]
    But, software does indeed have subscriptions, and MS has talked about doing it as well, I personally am not interested in a subscription for my vehicle. Despite Tesla and other companies trying to push it.
    I’d be happy riding a bicycle if it doesn’t cost me extra above maintenance, insurance, and fuel. It’s expensive enough driving a car these days
    [/QUOTE]
    They are definitely pushing it. The only subscription I paid for were for games where I known that I can finish the game in a month then I’ll cancel it. I’d never buy subscription based software for long term use. I can see it as an option for corporations for better management of expenses, but as a private citizen I can’t afford to pay $10 a month for every piece of software I use.

  17. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 45134, member: 1298″]
    You don’t need to maintain any servers for the remote fob to work. It’s RF. This is pure greed and a statement that you don’t actually own the car you paid for.[/QUOTE]

    Also, I should note. Is it though?

    A lot of cars have started including always on simcards in their cars and use mobile data for everything.

    Presumably the remote start feature would use this in order to bypass range limitations.

    Still, as I said above, it should be included. No subscription service for any feature of a car is ever even remotely acceptable.

    I’ll pay for the data subscription (by inserting my own SIM) but I will never pay for a feature subscription to an auto manufacturer.

  18. [QUOTE=”Zarathustra, post: 45185, member: 203″]
    A lot of cars have started including always on simcards in their cars and use mobile data for everything.
    [/QUOTE]
    What… what the actual f*ck?

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