What the Fob?

You now need a subscription to use Toyota's remote start key fob

Premium features in the auto industry are increasingly coming at a... um... premium.

Tramino/iStock Unreleased/Getty Images

Paywalls are no longer solely a headache online — they’re also increasingly a part of modern car ownership. As confirmed last week by The Drive, Toyota is the latest vehicle maker to restrict certain features to customers willing to cough up an additional monthly subscription fee. In this case, anyone who enjoys their key fob’s remote start option will need to chip in their regular Toyota tithe.

The new policy change will affect anyone owning a 2018-or-later vehicle, and won’t prevent them from actually starting their car or anything. But those who like to preheat their new Camry before their wintry morning commute will now have to weigh the pros and cons of chilly leather seats. According to Toyota’s new fine print for its Remote Connect suite of features, starting from afar will set you back $8 per month, or $80 annually.

Pay-up for your premium Prius.Boogich/iStock Unreleased/Getty Images

First premium pay for a key fob — As The Driver and elsewhere note, the fact that Toyota is adopting subscription models isn’t necessarily big news, but its choice in what devices count as “premium” is. Previously, carmakers relegated subscriptions to services that utilized drivers’ smartphones and apps — Toyota’s key fobs, on the other hand, generally just rely on a proximity-based remote frequency start. No computer system on Toyota’s end is required, meaning that charging drivers for full fob functionality is really just a conscious decision on the company’s part to squeeze some extra cash out of consumers.

But look, in Toyota’s defense: How else is it gonna finance copying Tesla’s steering yolk?