Why BMW offers heated seats on a monthly subscription

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Heated seats, purchased by subscription, will cost UK drivers £10 a month, the equivalent of around $12.

There were numerous media reports this week about BMW launching the program in South Korea, but it was a misunderstanding, according to BMW. In this case, it was simply a database error in BMW’s online store, according to the automaker.

But the British program is real.

BMW executives have been talking for years about plans to offer certain features, including, yes, heated seats, on a subscription basis. The heater coils and other hardware needed to heat the seats are already in the car, but owners can, if they wish, pay a monthly fee to BMW, which will allow them to actually operate. The advantage would be a lower initial price for the car and, potentially, the ability to only pay for the feature when it might be needed, such as in winter. Plus, second or third owners might pay — or not — for the features they want or don’t want.

Naturally, if BMW drivers who enroll in the program fail to make their payments, BMW will turn off their heated seats.

The features that will be offered by subscription will vary by market, the automaker said. Heated seats were given as an example of something that would not be offered by subscription in the United States, since American luxury car customers do not expect to have to pay for them monthly as they would, for example, a Netflix subscription. But heated steering wheels could be offered by subscription, BMW said in 2020. However, that hasn’t happened yet.

Some other features are already offered by subscription in the United States. Currently, North American BMW owners can separately purchase the “remote start” feature which allows drivers to start the engine from a certain distance so the car can warm up. Another one Also available from subscription.

They are offered on an online marketplace called the BMW ConnectedDrive Store, which includes some features of the car under the title of BMW Functions on Demand.

“With BMW Functions on Demand, customers will be able to explore new software features at short notice by purchasing a trial or purchasing that feature for a period of time or for the life of the vehicle,” the BMW spokesperson said. . Alexander Schmuck said in an email.

Features that were paid for when purchasing the vehicle will then no longer be available by subscription later. This kind of thing is just offered as a way for BMW owners, and possibly second or third owners of BMW vehicles, to try out features that might not have been “enabled” on their first purchase.

Automotive feature subscriptions are not limited to BMW. Subaru also charges a monthly fee for a remote start feature via an app (although it also sells an unlimited remote start feature for a higher upfront cost), and Tesla used software to artificially limit range. of the battery of its low-end models for years, sometimes unlocking a longer range in certain situations. Other automakers have also talked about charging subscription fees for regularly updated technologies like advanced driver assistance systems and navigation.

Don’t worry about your heated seats, though. They are all yours.

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