Ford's remote car starting and unlocking are available for free

You won't need a subscription to use most FordPass connected features.

Until now, all of FordPass' connected car features have technically been locked behind a subscription, no matter how basic -- while it was effectively free with up to five years of 'trial' service, there was still the prospect of losing remote unlocking simply because you didn't want to pay up. Now, however, you won't even have to think about it. Ford has scrapped trial subscriptions and made the most common features available for free. You can unlock your doors, start up the motor or schedule a maintenance visit so long as your vehicle supports FordPass Connect in the first place.

This unsurprisingly doesn't include the WiFi hotspot service, since that requires an LTE connection (AT&T in the US). All the same, Ford is eager to rub this in the nose of competitors. GM's OnStar can cost up to $15 per month, and your trial only lasts three months. Toyota charges $8 per month with a similar trial period. While free FordPass service isn't a huge savings in the context of the car, it could add up if you intend to keep a car for several years or more.

A move like this is likely easy to justify. What Ford loses in subscription revenue it might gain by spurring more customers to buy higher trim levels with FordPass Connect. There's also the simple matter of matching drivers' evolving expectations. When it's increasingly common to manage your car through a phone app, charging extra for the functionality may seem arbitrary.