These days, no area of life seems immune to the concept of the subscription model. The music we listen to, the films we watch, the food we buy, and even our cars can all be sorted via a monthly or annual fee.
Now, though, BMW is charging its customers monthly fees to use heated seats and other features that may already be physically installed in the car. Heated seats are the equivalent of £15 per month. It’s worth noting that customers can also pay for a £150 ($178) yearly subscription, £250 ($296) three-year subscription or buy the heated seat functionality permanently for £350 ($414).
BMW also offers a subscription service for use of software which helps detect speed cameras which costs £25 per year. You can also add a feature called High Beam Assistant, which automatically turns off your high beam headlights when there’s oncoming traffic (costing £10 a month or £100 a year). Other safety features like Driving Assistant Plus, which bundles together adaptive cruise control and automatic braking can be paid for on a monthly basis for £35, annually for £350, every three years for £550 or unlocked permanently for £750… That’s a lot for something already installed on your car.
It’s worth pointing out this isn’t something only BMW is doing - it’s also possible to pay to add un-specced features to the latest VW Golf retroactively.
The BMW ConnectedDrive store features can be purchased from within the car itself and over-the-air updates make them available to the driver without having to visit a BMW retailer.
Back in 2020, Tech Crunch quoted a BMW spokesperson as saying of the push towards subscription access to optional features:
“We offer maximum flexibility and peace of mind to our customers when it comes to choosing and using their optional equipment in their BMWs, whether this BMW is new or used.
“So flexible offers, immediate availability, simpler booking and easy usability for choice, at any time, when it comes to your optional equipment”