It appears Toyota is a bit uncomfortable with the slightly negative reaction from folks who learned their basic remote start functionality might require a paid monthly subscription. By slightly negative, we mean a blowback of epic proportions that even had some people questioning whether Toyota would eventually charge a monthly fee just to unlock their car.
To Toyota's credit, executives at the company appear to be listening. According to The Drive, the subscription requirement is being reevaluated on vehicles equipped with basic transmitter-operated remote start. The report claims Toyota wasn't expecting the backlash it received once word slipped out about the subscription requirement. Imagine that.
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The real rub wasn't so much the subscription itself. Rather, it was requiring a subscription for remote connected service to use what's essentially a free analog feature that doesn't need a connected service. In a nutshell, newer vehicles with fob-activated remote start use the same connected services software to start the car, but it's not part of a bundled subscription. As such, even though the key fob sends a basic signal to the car, it won't fire up the engine without the software seeing an active subscription. That's why older cars with fob-activated remote start are unaffected by the subscription requirement.
Gallery: 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime
Future vehicles will incorporate remote start exclusively into app-controlled functions requiring a subscription, as opposed to a simple button on a key fob. As for Toyota vehicle owners stuck between these two technological worlds, the report claims Toyota isn't even sure it can separate the transmitter control from the connected services software. That's apparently part of the ongoing evaluation.
In a statement to Motor1.com, a Toyota spokesperson said the following:
"We frequently incorporate feedback from customers to ensure we’re offering features that are useful and enhance their ownership experiences."