Auto Tech

Toyota Supra gets four years of Apple CarPlay free, but then what?

The Supra uses a version of BMW's iDrive, which may mean owners will eventually have to pay a subscription fee for the phone-mirroring tech.

The 2020 Supra shares a lot of BMW DNA -- some of it is desirable, some of it might not be.

Toyota

It's widely known -- and the point of some contention -- that the new 2020 Toyota Supra has loads of BMW in its genetic makeup. Toyota's partnership with the German automaker to develop its new Supra alongside BMW's Z4 Roadster helped make the economies of scale feasible to offer these smaller-volume sports cars. However, that agreement also may have had some unforeseen consequences. Among them? The 2020 Supra looks like it may become the only Toyota to charge owners for ongoing access to Apple CarPlay.

Among many other interior bits, the new Supra employs a thinly reskinned version of BMW's iDrive infotainment system, and recently, the Bavarians became the first automaker to start charging a yearly subscription fee for Apple CarPlay integration, a move that upset many brand enthusiasts, car shoppers and yes, automotive journalists. By inheriting BMW's infotainment, Toyota may have unwittingly introduced this pay-as-you-go phone-pairing technology to their own new sports car.

Back in May, when he drove the 2020 Supra at its US launch, our man Tim Stevens enquired about this issue, and at the time, Toyota officials weren't sure how they were going to handle it. According to a report from Motor1.com, the solution -- for now --  appears to be four years of complementary CarPlay access. However, that may not be the end of the story -- it appears that Toyota may not have figured out what happens after that four-year period expires. What comes next? "We haven't decided yet," is the answer Motor1 was given by Toyota's Jarrod Marini, Customer Care Senior Analyst (Connected Technologies).  

While most newly developed Toyota models come with free Apple CarPlay integrated into even base infotainment systems, if you want this convenient technology on the Supra, the base $49,990 (plus $930 delivery) model won't cut it. You'll have to step up to a Premium ($53,990) or Launch Edition ($55,250) trim in order to get the upgraded Supra Command system featuring an 8.8-inch screen -- the base 6.5-inch unit does without the phone-mirroring functionality. 

If that infotainment system looks a lot like BMW's iDrive, that's because it is.

Tim Stevens, Roadshow

Toyota's four-year initial free period is at least substantially more generous than BMW, which previously charged a one-time option fee for the technology and now gives a one-year complimentary period followed by an $80 annual subscription fee on some of its models. 

One other potentially unanticipated consequence of going with BMW's pay-to-CarPlay subscription model? The Supra's system may be vulnerable to outages. Back in May, an issue with BMW's ConnectedDrive telematics services caused Apple CarPlay compatibility to temporarily disappear in select BMW vehicles. According to BMW officials, a server migration issue was to blame for the brief problem. Roadshow has reached out to Toyota for clarification and will update this story if more information becomes available.

Like today's BMW range, the Supra does not offer Android Auto. Toyota has begun introducing Google's equivalent smartphone-mirroring tech on select 2020 model-year vehicles in the US and Canada, including its 4Runner, Sequoia, Tacoma and Tundra trucks and SUVs.