Subscription services are a dime a dozen today, and automakers want a piece of that recurring revenue pie. BMW, which attempted to charge customers a yearly fee for access to Apple CarPlay before backing down, has introduced another subscription called the Traffic Camera Information service. The service alerts drivers to various speed cameras, radar detectors, and red-light cameras. However, while BMW offers a three-month trial on select 2021 models, it will cost $25 for 15 months after that.
According to Automotive News, the system pairs the location data of fixed and mobile traffic cameras with data from radar detectors to alert drivers to any potential speed traps that may lie ahead. The TCI service is part of BMW’s ConnectedDrive suite of technologies that also includes a concierge service. The system sound similar to what Google’s Wave app offers, though the smartphone app relies on users to pinpoint speed trap locations, which may not always be reliable.
Subscriptions have emerged as an interesting crossroads between the automotive and consumer technologies industries. Netflix, Spotify, Audible, and other streaming services have popularized paying a monthly fee to access services, and automakers have waded into this space before. Cadillac’s Super Cruise semi-self-driving technology will be available with a monthly fee, for example. However, as BMW found out with its attempt to monetize Apple CarPlay, you can’t turn everything into a monthly subscription, especially for something other automakers offer for free.
BMW had required customers to pay $80 for a 12-month Apple CarPlay subscription or shell out $300 for a 240-month (20 years) one. However, the company changed course, eliminating the fee for all 2019 and 2020 models. Automakers could look to monetizing other features in the future, like infotainment software updates or luxury amenities, as the line between cars and technology continues to blur with EVs and semi-self-driving technologies on their way.