BMW Canada has confirmed that it will charge customers an annual subscription fee for Apple CarPlay from the 2019 model year onward.
According to BMW Canada spokesman Robert Dexter, buyers of new BMW vehicles will receive one free year of Apple CarPlay subscription, after which point they must pay an annual fee to have access to the program.
"As of model year 2019, all BMW models with Navigation will receive Apple CarPlay at no cost for 1 year," BMW Canada said in an email. "Should customers wish to extend CarPlay beyond 1 year, an annual subscription of $100 Canadian dollars, or 3 years for $275, will be available for purchase via the BMW Connected Drive store."
BMW says this was done to lower the initial cost of the vehicle for owners who only plan on keeping their cars for a short time. CarPlay was standard on many high trim-level BMWs, but on others, it was only available as part of expensive options packages. By taking this route, BMW customers can have access to CarPlay for less.
It would be easy to understand BMW implementing such a change if Apple charged automakers exorbitant licensing fees to put CarPlay in their vehicles – but Apple lets manufacturers use CarPlay for free. Apple benefits from the widespread implementation of the system as it promotes the use of iOS devices. In other words, this is a bit of a cash grab on BMW's part, even if it does lower the initial cost of the vehicle. Apple CarPlay is standard on a $10,000 CAD Chevrolet Spark, remember.