One of the things that I found interesting when I was researching cars was that most vehicles are now connected to the internet. This is obvioiusly a way that auto manufactures can add a new revenue stream, but I wondered if these services were worth it to me.
Looking at the services, they break down to three general things that are being offered (using Toyota naming scheme):
- Remote Connect: Remote lock/unlock, remote start/stop and status of vehicle (fuel, locks, engine).
- Safety Connect: Safety related services such as 24/7 roadside assistance with GPS location, automatic crash collision notification, emergency assistance button and stolen vehicle locator.
- Destination Assist: 24/7 live human to help search for a location and send that directly to a connected navigation system.
Most manufacturers offer in-car WiFi as an optional monthly subscription paid to one of the mobile operators.
Tesla offers Premium Connectivity (live traffic, satellite maps, video streaming, caraoke, music streaming and internet browser) for a monthly subscription also.
What Mookie (Might) Need
I am not convinced I need any of the services after the trial first year with Toyota.
The only one that I find mildly interesting is Remote Connect which lets me lock, unlock, start and stop my car remotely. Along with that, there is a vehicle locator and guest driver settings – the settings are more an alert than restrictions for what guest drivers (vallets, kids, etc) can do in the car.
More interesting for me is the status of my vehicle – I am that guy that always wonders after I leave my car behind, “Did I lock the doors?”
At a cost of $80/yr (paid annually) or $8/mo (paid monthly), it is a bit of a tough sell. Oh, it also allows me to use Google Assistant (or Amazon Alexa) to do everything I can do in the app. But, that’s more of a party trick than anything.
Safety Connect is not something that I need since I have a AAA membership. Toyota’s Safety Connect has some limitations. For instance, towing is limited to towing to the nearest Toyota dealership. AAA, depending on membership level, offers 5, 100 or 200 miles of towing. Toyota’s Safety Connect is also tied to the car that the subscription is for. The AAA membership is tied to the account holder. So, whatever car I am in, I can use my AAA services for that car – whether I am riding with a friend or driving a rental car, the AAA services are associated with me and not the car.
The pricing for Toyota Safety Connect isn’t competitive either: $80/yr (paid annually) or $8/mo (paid monthly). For AAA, the base membership (Classic) is $56/yr and gets 5 miles of towing. Plus membership is $91/yr (less than Toyota Safety Connect paid monthly) and gets 100 miles of towing. Premier is $119/yr and that includes 200 miles of towing. The AAA memberships come with all the services that Toyota Safety Connect comes with and also some ancillary benefits – discounts, identity monitoring and travel planning.
Destination Assist is something I definitely do not need. I can look up my destinations and punch them into Apple Maps or the onboard navigation software myself.
I am still monitoring to see if the DCM fix actually worked. I have about six months left on my trial for Remote Connect. The last time the DCM failed it was after about two months – so I have time to monitor and use Remote Connect.
It’s too bad that Toyota is not offering the basic functions (remote lock/unlock + remote start/stop + vehicle status) for free like some other manufactures (Ford and Tesla) or even offering the services for a longer period of time for free (VW gives 5 years).
I do understand the economics behind it though, the cost of having an LTE connection on each vehicle has to be paid by someone. I am sure that Ford and Tesla have baked the cost of the LTE connection into the cost of the vehicle. While other manufacturers cut costs by not providing the basic services for free.
So, come next April, if the DCM in my Toyota Carmy is still working, I might subscribe to Remote Connect. The other services are not useful to me.
Do you have a connected vehicle? What services do you subscribe to? Let me know
I took a look at a few manufacturers to get a feel for the costs associated with Automotive Connected Services.
Free/Trial Periods by Manufacturer/Service
|Manufacturer||Remote Connect||Safety Connect||Destination Assist|
|Toyota||1 Year Free||1 Year Free||1 Year Free|
|GM (OnStar)||1 Month Free||1 Month Free||1 Month Free|
|Ford||Free||5 Year/60k Miles - No crash collection notification||1 Month Free|
|Honda||3 Month Free||1 Year Free||3 Month Free|
|VW||5 Years Free||No Free Period||n/a|
|Nissan||3 Years Free||3 Years Free||n/a|
Costs by Manufacturer/Service
|Manufacturer||Remote Connect||Safety Connect||Destination Assist||All ServicesCost Over Five Years||Remote Connect Over Five Years|
|Toyota||$8/mo or $80/yr||$8/mo or $80/yr||$8/mo or $80/yr||$960||$320|
|Tesla||Free||n/a||n/a||$0 (No Safety Connect, Destination Assist)||$0|
|GM (OnStar)||$14.99/mo||$24.99/mo||Part of Remote Connect||$2360||$885|
|Ford||Free||No Info Provided||No Info Provided||$0 (No Pricing Available for Destination Assist)||$0|
|Honda||$110/yr||$89/yr||Included with Remote Connect||$906||$220|
|VW||No Info Provided||$99/yr||n/a||$495 (No Destination Assist)||$0|
|Nissan||$11.99/mo (remote lock/unlock), $8.99/mo (remote start/stop + boundaries)||$12.99/mo||Included with Safety Connect||$815||$504|
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