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BMW Just Undid Its Biggest Mistake in Years

BMW decided not to stick to its guns on a feature destined to annoy owners.

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One of BMW’s stupidest decisions in years is coming to an end. BMW has ended its policy to of charging $80 per year in subscription fees for Apple CarPlay in its new cars and SUVs, according to a statement the carmaker gave to Car and Driver.

The change will take effect immediately, BMW said, and is retroactive; any 2019 model year cars that have seen their 12-month free trial of CarPlay lapse already will have the service re-enabled. Starting now, any Bimmer with navigation will offer Apple CarPlay for free in perpetuity.

Charging for Apple CarPlay was always a bad look for BMW. Almost every other manufacturer — from BMW’s big-budget rivals to budget brands — offers the technology for free. (Most of them offer Android Auto too, a technology that BMW does not.) BMW’s ostensible justification was that, unlike other carmakers, the company also offered wireless CarPlay functionality — though other manufacturers have begun doing the same.

Even if BMW needed that trivial amount of extra income, the company could have worked an extra $80-plus into the cost of each vehicle’s MSRP, or into a technology package, without buyers noticing or feeling ripped off. Would many BMW buyers have paid the fee? Probably. But why give anyone a reason to go check out a Mercedes?

Well, here’s hoping BMW’s Apple CarPlay mea culpa will inspire the company to revisit its second-stupidest decision in years: obnoxiously large kidney grilles.

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