Automakers keep trying to get a piece of that sweet, sweet subscription income. Now, it’s Toyota’s turn.
Nearly every car company offers some sort of subscription package, and Toyota has one called Remote Connect. The service offers the usual fare, letting owners use an app to remotely lock their doors, for example, or if they own a plug-in vehicle, to precondition the interior. But as some complimentary subscriptions for Remote Connect come to an end, Toyota owners are getting an unexpected surprise—they can no longer use their key fob to remote-start their vehicles.
In terms of technology, this remote-start feature is no different from using the fob to unlock the car. The fobs use a short-range radio transmitter to send the car a signal that is encrypted with rolling codes. The car then decrypts the signal and performs the requested action, whether it’s to lock or unlock the doors, beep the horn, or start the engine. RF key fobs have been around since the 1980s, and GM added a factory-installed remote-start option in 2004 (no subscription needed).