BMW has announced it will offer a free four-year subscription of its BMW Assist service to the North American market starting with its 2007 models. It will cost the automaker $80 million in subscription payments, but that's well worth it, according to BMW spokespeople, who say that keeping owners signed onto a service that provides so many safety and convenience benefits is just a "BMW thing to do."

The device is an internal cell phone that relays car diagnostics or emergency information, like an airbag deployment, to a call center in Texas. The system rivals General Motors' OnStar, which has tiered subscriptions that allow owners to specify everything from emergency assitance to a virtual concierge.

[Source: Automotive News]