BMW Wants To Charge You $18 A Month for Heated Seats
Subscriptions are the future cash cows of automakers. In the beginning, it was just satellite radio that you paid monthly for, and that money didn’t go to the car makers. Now, car companies are looking to make you pay a subscription for the features that’s already in the car.
A prime example of this is Tesla Full Self Driving (FSD). Every Tesla ships with FSD, but it’s only turned on if you’re willing to pay $199 a month for it, or you buy it outright for $12,000.
A subscription on a major feature like FSD, I can understand. However, BMW is taking the subscription model to ludicrous levels. They want to charge you $18 a month for heated seats!
BMW customers in South Korea will find that their new BMW comes with heated seats, but it won’t work unless they pay for it. Owners will have to log into the BMW ConnectedDrive portal to turn on the heat.
Turning on heated seats cost 24,000 won, or $18.32 USD at the current exchange rates. Customers can save some money by ordering a one-year plan for $176 or a three-year subscription for $283. Or they can just buy it outright for $406.
The upgrade is done over the air, and the heated seats turn on the instant you start your subscription. Not sure if you need heated seats? BMW is kind enough to let you test it out for one month free of charge.
But Wait! There’s More!
Heated seats are not the only thing on BMW’s subscription plan. Want a heated steering wheel? Then prepare to pay $10 month, $92 a year, $162 for three years, or buy it outright for $222. Want the Apple CarPlay to be wireless, so you don’t have to plug in a USB cable? That’ll be $305! Want to play fake engine sound through the car speakers? Turn on IconicSounds Sport for only $138. The BMW ConnectedDrive store allows customers to upgrade the headlights to include a high-beam assistant, additional safety systems, and the camera-based Driver Recorder.
While this sounds like BMW is trying to nickel and dime you to death, subscriptions will represent a huge part of automaker’s profit in the future. Stellantis estimates it’ll make $23 billion a year from subscription by the end of this decade.
I’m pretty sure the aftermarket will be releasing smartphone-like jailbreak to unlocked all the locked features. However, that will most likely result in voiding your warranty.
Tesla uses subscription features to increase the price of their used cars and lease returns. I never ordered my last Model X with FSD, but when I retuned it to Tesla, I found they sold the car with FSB enable. Tesla realized a much higher price for my Model X by simply turning on a feature that new Tesla customer pay $12,000, or $199 a month for.