Update: We received an official statement from Toyota that confirms remote start from the key fob on "certain" models from 2018 forward will indeed require a subscription.
Toyota didn't provide specific details on the cost of the subscription, but the automaker did explain that services were free for a three-year trial period on select 2018-2020 vehicles, and for a much longer ten-year trial on select vehicles 2020 and newer. This trial period sticks with the car, so no matter how many owners there are, the free trial remains in effect for the full period. And no, there are no plans to incorporate power door locks into a subscription service.
Here is Toyota's full statement:
Toyota’s Connected Services offers an extensive list of convenience and safety features to our customers. We frequently incorporate feedback from customers to ensure we’re offering features that are useful and enhance their ownership experiences.
Select Connected Services features are available on applicable vehicles across our product line-up for a trial period from the date of new purchase and after with a paid subscription plan. With the Remote Connect trial and subscription plans customers can use convenience features within the Toyota app from their smart phone or smart watch for a variety of features, including remote vehicle start/stop, lock/unlock from the app.
Separately, remote start from the vehicle key fob is available during any active trial period*, including Service Connect, Remote Connect or Safety Connect. Key fob remote start is a convenience feature and will remain active for the duration of any open trial period. Trial period durations vary and may last up to 10 years. As we move to more digital experiences within the Toyota app, key fob remote start is not a feature we actively market. More information specific to model trial periods can be found here: https://www.toyota.com/connected-services/
Owners can review their vehicle's Connected Services within the Toyota app or by clicking here. They may also refer to the Owner's Manual.
10-year trial on certain 2020 model year and newer Toyota vehicles
3-year trial on certain 2018 through 2020 Toyota vehicles
It’s happening, folks - the automakers are starting to ask monthly or yearly subscription fees for some of its features that can be enabled or disabled over the air through software manipulation. There are several examples, including BMW’s temporary Apple CarPlay subscription and Audi’s navigation function that comes at a monthly fee, and now Toyota is taking things to the next level.
The Japanese automotive giant is apparently introducing a subscription fee for its Remote Connect function which allows you to remotely start the engine of your car from the key fob. The tech doesn’t need a connection to Toyota’s servers, though The Drive reports it won’t work without a subscription. We've reached out to Toyota for clarification, and that official statement is at the top of the article.
According to the online publication, the automaker will charge you $8 per month or $80 per year for the full functionality of the Remote Connect feature. It is available for 2018 or newer Toyota cars, though we don’t know whether this applies to all current models of the brand.
If you buy a new Toyota today, you’ll be offered the option to trial the company’s Connected Services. The length of the trial depends on the exact model, varying from three to ten years depending mostly on the audio package included in the vehicle. The full Connected Services information for each model can be found here.
As The Drive reports, a Reddit user first shared the information about Toyota potentially charging a subscription fee for the remote engine start functionality after finding weird wording in Toyota's Remote Connect marketing materials. A broader forum discussion came to the conclusion that many 2018 or newer Toyotas are still within their subscription trial periods, which makes it impossible for their owners to know whether the engine remote start function requires a subscription.
Source: The Drive