Up till now, FordPass' connected car features have been tied into a subscription. Drivers who enjoyed up to five years of 'trial' service would eventually lose remote unlocking if they didn’t pay for the service. Now, the automaker has abandoned trial subscriptions and will provide basic features for free.
In the past, FordPass was a service provided via one-, two- and five-year subscriptions. Yet times have changed with all Ford models offering standard 911 Assist, which connects with a driver's cell phone to automatically dial 911 should an airbag be deployed. The system also provides GPS coordinates to assist first responders. As an additional bonus, anyone who uses FordPass automatically joins FordPass Rewards, which offers owners and lessees points to use toward maintenance.
With FordPass Connect, drivers can unlock their doors, start up the motor or schedule a maintenance visit. Although the system doesn't include WiFi hotspot service, since that entails an LTE connection, Ford is confident that its free offer will unnerve its competitors.
GM's OnStar, which costs up to $15 per month, only offers a three-month free trial. Toyota, meanwhile, charges $8 per month for a comparable trial period. And although no one is going to buy a car just for free FordPass service, the long-term savings do add up. It’s also much more convenient to not have to worry about yet another bill.
While Ford may lose subscription revenue, it might gain more higher trim level subscribers with FordPass Connect. In addition, drivers are becoming increasingly demanding when it comes to features and most expect certain functionalities, though they’re not always willing to pay for them.
For now, Ford will be the only mainstream brand providing its suite of services without fees. Functions include remote locking/unlocking, starting, fuel level checks, vehicle health reports, and roadside assistance from the FordPass app. Some locations also provide a Sparkl cleaning service to clean Ford cars that can be accessed from the app. If GM, Fiat Chrysler, and others decided to follow Ford’s lead, this may up the ante and additional features may be added to the free subscription.