Subscriptions for basic car features is the wave of the future, said Forbes, as BMW and other car companies continue to experiment with the subscription model for features that can include remote start and even CarPlay.
BMW recently announced its vehicle owners in a handful of countries (not including the US) can buy heated seated seats on a subscription basis. In the UK, it would cost about $18 per month (or $178 per year or $415 for unlimited access), said Cars.com.
In the US, BMW offers remote start on a subscription basis and also a Drive Recorder dashcam, which uses the car’s driver assist cameras.
BMW also charges for heated steering wheels in the UK ($12/month), said The Verge.
Forbes said the trend is about to get stronger. “This is just the tip of a very large iceberg poised to quickly sweep the auto industry…even for the more mundane features we now take for granted.”
Audi charges fees for navigation on some models as well WiFi.
Porsche charges an after-purchase upgrade fee for lane keeping on its Taycan.
But beyond the luxury car market, auto makers have experienced a backlash on the subscription model. Toyota retreated from a subscription fee for remote start late last year. And in 2019, BMW wound up scrapping its charges for access to CarPlay at $80/year (or $300 for 20 years).
Kelley Blue Book explains that consumers are keeping cars longer than ever, so car makers are looking for ways collect fees from consumers between car purchases.