Owners can now create custom radio stations.
BMW owners now have access to another subscription-based tech feature, but this time it has nothing to do with Apple CarPlay. SiriusXM rolled out a new Pandora Stations feature, which offers customizable, ad-free radio stations. Starting with 2022 models, like the new 7 Series, most BMWs will get the tech, and it's already available to owners of 2021 BMWs.
BMW is one of the first automakers to get the new feature, but it's unclear when it'll be available to other makes. The service offers streaming and on-demand content, in addition to ad-free radio from Pandora. SiriusXM acquired Pandora in 2019. Owners can create a custom radio station and give songs thumbs up or down to tailor the station to their tastes.
New BMW buyers get a year long SiriusXM trial with access to the Platinum Plan. It's not clear what the plan will cost after the trial, but current pricing sits at $19 per month. Of course, the satellite radio giant is known for giving discounts and promotional rates to retain customers, so it'll likely be possible to get a subscription for less than that.
Pandora Stations will be available to new 2022 model-year vehicles, but BMW has offered it in 2021 models, many of which are still under their 12-month SiriusXM trial. The automaker rolled out a new version of its iDrive infotainment software in 2021, which brought a new interface, updated gesture controls, and better voice commands. The system will eventually be the norm for all BMW models, but it's good to see older versions of the interface getting updates like Pandora stations.
Though BMW is the first to get the new Pandora features, several other vehicles have 360L radios capable of running the tech. The list of 360L-equipped vehicles includes the Ford F-150 and most vehicles from General Motors, Audi, Volkswagen, and BMW.
It's worth noting that BMW hasn't had the best luck selling subscription services. The automaker attempted to charge an annual fee for its wireless Apple CarPlay feature back in 2019 but quickly walked back the decision after buyers became understandably irritated by the move. Even so, people know the SiriusXM name and expect to pay a subscription fee, so this will likely go over a little easier for BMW's customers.