Just about any new car today is really a computer on four wheels. And as a computer becomes more powerful by adding paid apps and free operating system updates, cars are also moving in that direction.
A car manufacturer charges a monthly fee that allows you to use a key fob to lock and unlock your car! More on this below. Optional extras have been around since the dawn of automobile sales, but subscription-based services are relatively new.
At least the popular GPS apps are still free. Here are five Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Waze tips and tricks you’ll use all the time.
Your car may be older. You don’t have to do without all the bells and whistles. Tap or click to get high-tech upgrades you can make to an older model.
If you are looking for a new car, you should find out about subscription fees before signing a purchase contract.
Automakers want to charge us for more performance or even the most basic features. For example, Mercedes Benz charges its electric car owners $1,200 a year to drive a little faster.
Expensive ‘Acceleration Enhanced’ software update lets you go from zero to 60 mph a second faster. It is available for the Mercedes-EQ range of electric vehicles.
The German luxury car brand also charges German buyers $576 per year for rear-wheel steering on the EQS. This feature reduces the car’s turning arc, making it easier to make sharp turns and parking. While this is standard for EQS vehicles sold in the United States, it could be a sign of things to come.
Be careful: More than 5 million cars have been recalled in the past six months. Check if yours is on the list.
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Audi’s “Features on Demand” system allows drivers to purchase subscriptions to new features such as smartphone functionality through the car’s display, park assist and dynamic exterior lighting.
Additional features can be paid monthly or annually and are available for e-tron, A4, A5, A6, A7, Q5, Q7 and Q8 models. You can choose whatever you want. Navigation, for example, costs $849 per year. The dynamic lighting package is $260 per year. Plans are currently being rolled out in Europe, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them reach the US
In the meantime, Audi’s Connect Prime and Connect Plus are available here in the US, starting at $36 per month or $365 per year, offering enhanced navigation, voice recognition and Wi-Fi.
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BMW has made waves by announcing $18 per month charges for heated seats in other countries. There’s also a High Beam Assist upgrade, which automatically brightens or dims the headlights for $8 a month.
The automaker previously tried to charge buyers $80 a year to access Apple CarPlay. They abandoned the plan after many negative comments.
In the United States, BMW ConnectedDrive upgrades offer premium features via software downloads. You can get a dash cam feature for $19 per month or $430 for the life of the vehicle.
Cadillac offers a hands-free highway driving system called Super Cruise for $25 a month. With this, you get hands-free driving on 200,000 miles of compatible roads across the US and Canada. It’s offered as a free trial when you buy the vehicle, but you’ll have to pay if you want to keep it afterwards.
The following models offer Super Cruise: 2018-2020 CT6, 2021 and 2023 CT4, 2021 and 2023 CT5, 2021-2023 Escalade, 2022-2023 XT6 and the 2023 Lyriq.
For the 2023 Corvette Z06 or Stingray, you’ll need to shell out $300 for a three-year subscription to GM’s OnStar service, which includes remote start and vehicle diagnostics, among other features.
GM is making its OnStar and Connected Services Premium Plan mandatory on all new Buick, Cadillac and GMC models for a low $1,500. This includes three years of automatic collision response, roadside assistance, turn-by-turn navigation, remote key fob, vehicle diagnostics, Wi-Fi hotspot, and more. .
Porsche Connect offers subscription services for various features, such as a Wi-Fi hotspot ($20 per month), theft detection system ($280 per year), and navigation and infotainment ( $205 per year).
Availability varies by model, and you can activate many features on the fly via the Porsche Connect app. Upgrades are available for the 718, 911, Taycan, Panamera, Macan and Cayenne.
Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” beta mode, or FSD, was once only available to drivers with a passing grade determined by their car’s driver monitoring system. Now the feature is rolling out to the masses – or anyone willing to pay for it.
You can request the FSD from your driver’s screen or the app, but the price can make you do a double take:
- FSD is available for $15,000 when you purchase a new vehicle.
- Already own a Tesla? You can also pay a $99 subscription fee if you have the basic autopilot and want to add FSD functionality.
- If you have the enhanced autopilot and want to add FSD functionality, it will cost you $199 per month.
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Full disclosure: Tesla’s FSD has put the automaker in the federal government’s crosshairs. The US Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation into whether Tesla misled consumers, investors and others by making false claims about its self-driving technology. Tap or click here for my review.
If you live in an area with cold winters or hot summers, remote start lets you bring your car’s interior to a comfortable temperature before you get in. If you enjoyed the functionality of your 2018 or later Toyota, prepare for a surprise.
You will need to subscribe to Toyota’s Remote Connect service to continue using your key fob to start the car. The service works through an app on your phone. It includes other features like vehicle status alerts, performance throttling for guest drivers, last parked location, and the ability to lock or unlock your doors from your phone.
Remote Connect costs $8 per month or $80 per year.
At the end of the line : Find out about monthly or annual subscription fees when buying a car. They could cost you a lot more than expected.
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