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BMW backtracks on cheeky plan to charge Apple CarPlay subscription fee

During the summer of 2019, BMW announced plans to charge drivers a subscription fee to access Apple’s free-to-use CarPlay infotainment service through their iPhone handset.

After 12-months of free usage, the German auto titan had plotted to charge £85 per year or £295 for a lifetime subscription, in order to use CarPlay, which Apple allows manufacturers to use free-of-charge.

However, a spokesperson for the company has now informed Autocar this will no longer be the case, at least on new cars running the latest version of CarPlay in the UK. It’ll now be free for as long as the driver owns that car. Those who’ve already purchased the plan will get a refund.

Some drivers will still have to pay £235 if they want to access CarPlay – which integrates the Phone, Maps, Messages, Music, a host of third-party apps and offers hands-free access to Siri – via some BMW cars.

Related: Best iPhone handset to buy in 2019 

For example, Autocar points out models that cannot access the latest version of CarPlay such as the i3, i8 and 2 Series and 4 Series cars. At least that’s a £60 discount on what BMW was asking, but still a bitter pill to swallow for drivers.

Considering you have to buy one of the higher-end navigation-eqiupped models to even have access to CarPlay in the first place, it’s galling the German auto giant is asking for another fee to actually use it. BMW had initially said the subscription model was introduced to give drivers the option of paying less for the car if they didn’t plan to use CarPlay, since implementation cost BMW money.

Back in June, the company said this “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.”

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