Toyota is reconsidering a controversial decision to charge for keyless remote entry after backlash from owners and non-owners alike.
Toyota ignited a firestorm in mid-December when The Drive broke news the company planned on disabling key fob remote start unless customers were enrolled in a monthly subscription. Rather than announcing the change only for upcoming models, Toyota said it would apply to models sold from 2018 forward.
At the time the news broke, Toyota was less than forthcoming with details, but the company has since provided The Drive with more information. Evidently, the remote start functionality — activated by pressing the lock button three times — was never advertised in official Toyota materials as a feature, and was something many dealers simply told customers about.
Toyota says the issue comes from software logic related to the data communication module (DCM), which checks for the presence of a subscription before allowing certain feature. The remote start is one such feature, even though the functionality is handled locally, between the fob and the car.
“The subscription truly is for the app,” a Toyota spokesperson told The Drive. “The key fob remote start was never intended to be a cost item either at the time of purchase or through subscription.”
The company claims it never anticipated the pushback it received, although it’s hard to imagine how a company with the marketing resources of Toyota managed to miss such an obvious conclusion, especially given the “subscription fatigue” many customers feel. It’s also not clear how or why the company did not realize dealerships were telling customers about the remote start, or that it would be such a loved feature — one customers would not want to give up.
Either way, Toyota says it is reevaluating the situation and trying to determine if the functionality can be left as-is.