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Today’s technology is a major boost to the auto industry. But it also means many of the optional add-ons car companies once offered are now standard. Today, even basic trims come loaded with safety tech and infotainment. Most car companies accept this as the norm. But BMW is establishing a new precedent regarding its vehicles’ Apple CarPlay feature.

Apple CarPlay subscription for BMW owners

Apple CarPlay will now become a subscription service in 2019 BMW cars. This came as a shock to the auto industry, seeing as the Apple CarPlay service, along with Android Auto, is often practically offered for free.

There is a silver lining to drivers though. BMW will offer Apple CarPlay free of charge for the first year. However, after the one-year subscription ends, owners will have to pay a fee of $80 annually to keep the service.

BMW owners will also have the option of a “lifetime” Apple CarPlay subscription by paying a one-time fee of $300. This agreement allows drivers to benefit from Apple CarPlay for the duration you own a BMW vehicle.

Currently, Apple CarPlay is the only navigation service of BMW. The good news is that the German automaker plans to add Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant services to its cars. Notably, the company has not confirmed any plans to implement its new subscription-based approach for those services.

BMW’s choice to charge an annual $80 fee for Apple CarPlay sets it apart from other automakers. We’ll have to wait to see if this will affect the automaker negatively. Because other manufacturers offer the service either as a free standard or optional feature, car owners may not take too kindly to having to pay for it.

The rationale behind BMW’s subscription fee

The automaker’s complicated infotainment system prompted its decision to charge for Apple CarPlay. According to Car and Driver, a BMW representative said the company’s Apple CarPlay needs different hardware to get set up. On top of that, the system’s additional complexity needs more maintenance resources, which costs money.

While the explanation makes sense, drivers may still feel aggrieved at this development. For the moment, BMW remains the only car company to charge the yearly feel. Not even the Toyota Supra, which is based on BMW, does this. Though specifics on possible subscription fees are not yet available, Toyota plans to offer the service free of charge for four years.

Toyota won’t be the only automaker following BMW’s yearly subscription model closely to gauge the reaction of buyers.