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  • Writer's picturejohn kepler

Car subscriptions are coming - A monthly fee for heated seats?

Recently, BMW caused a massive stir when it introduced subscription pricing for heated seats in its cars

Recently, BMW caused a massive stir when it introduced subscription pricing for heated seats in its cars, when the option wasn’t purchased originally. The rub here is the actual heated seat is built into most BMWs.

Though this feature was only turned on in international regions and not the US, many BMW fans and auto enthusiasts were incensed at the prospect. The car comes with the feature built in — "Why should buyers pay just to turn it on after the fact?" was the most common complaint.

While automakers like Tesla have been utilizing subscription or features on demand for options like Autopilot and the more advanced full-self driving (FSD) beta feature, these are software add-ons that enhance the car, but aren’t really physical features that were sitting dormant in the car (though one could argue the chips, processors, and sensors on a Tesla needed for autonomy were already paid for by the owner).

Mercedes waded into the mix recently with news that it would allow owners of EQ-series EVs to unlock more power through a subscription feature activated through the Mercedes app. For instance for the EQE 350 4MATIC EV, Mercedes notes prices of $60/month, $600/year or lifetime cost of $1,950 to unlock an additional 60 horsepower (and improve 0-60 mph times to 5.1 seconds from 6.0 seconds, which truth be told is a significant boost).

It’s another interesting move from Mercedes, as the car theoretically is capable of producing the enhanced power, but Mercedes has essentially “detuned” the motor from a software point of view. Usually this is the case for the base trim or lower-level trims in the model line, like in this case the 350 4MATIC trim of the EQE series.

Toyota was flagged by users on Reddit for making owners pay a subscription fee to unlock certain features on the Toyota app, namely the ability to unlock the car doors and remotely start the vehicle if need be. Again, the feature is already baked-in to the app and the car itself, but Toyota would like owners to pay to activate the feature.

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