At BMW there will be special functions in the future subscription model.

At BMW there will be special functions in the future subscription model.

I recently had to get subscriptions with BMW for individual add-ons.

Heated seats cost 17 euros a month and a heated steering wheel 9 euros.

Automakers can make billions each year in subscription fees for certain features.

Imagine that you are the proud owner of a brand new BMW. On a cold morning, I tried turning on the heated seats in your car and nothing happened. The seat does not heat up.

This scenario is not far-fetched. BMW now offers heated seats and some other features as a monthly subscription in some countries, including Germany. If you do not pay, you will not have access – even if your car is equipped with the necessary equipment.

Subscription models can become a profitable business model for car manufacturers, some talk of billions of euros in sales annually. Above all, it aims to generate a steady stream of income that continues long after the vehicle is manufactured and sold.

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Seat heating costs €17 per month in Germany, with additional options for one or three years, plus an unlimited period of €390. A heated steering wheel costs nine euros per month. There is a high-beam assistant for eight euros a month, and a driving assistant for 40 euros a month.

Cars are now more connected to the Internet than ever before, allowing car manufacturers to remotely add, unlock, or update features in your cars. As a result, cars may remain modern and functional for much longer. On the other hand, it is a profitable model for manufacturers.

resistance from customers

For example, Lexus, Toyota and Subaru charge their customers to remotely lock or start their vehicle via an app. Super Cruise, a hands-free feature available on some Cadillacs and Chevrolets, costs around €25 per month. Tesla, the leader in remote software updates, charges about $199 a month for its most advanced driver assistance system in the United States. Driving Assistant in Germany is not yet available as a subscription.

This trend met with resistance from customers. After the criticism, BMW recently abandoned a plan to charge around €80 per month for Apple CarPlay in the USA. Experts say it may take some push-and-back for automakers to better understand what customers are willing to pay.

“I think we’re going to see some interesting tides to figure out what really matters,” Kristen Coolidge, an analyst at consumer research firm JD Power tells us.

This article was translated from the English by Ben Peters. You can find the original over here.


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