Car Makers Plan to Require Monthly Subscriptions to Use Heated Seats, and Other ‘Luxuries’

German luxury carmaker BMW is charging consumers $18 a month for heated seats using hardware that is already present in their vehicles. While it was not clear when BMW began implementing such microtransaction subscriptions, automobile news website Jalopnik reported that the feature was seen in BMW vehicles in South Korea. According to The Verge, a monthly subscription for heating one’s front seats will cost around $18. Alternative subscription options include a yearly plan costing the car owner $180 annually, and a three-year plan costing $300. Car owners can also purchase an “unlimited” plan for $415, the outlet reported. While BMW’s digital stores in the U.S. do not have an option for such subscriptions, the heated seat subscription was spotted in the company’s U.K., Germany, New Zealand and South Africa digital stores, according to The Verge. It is common practice for car owners to pay up for more features in their vehicles. However, in the case of the BMW heated seats, the vehicles already have the hardware for the seat heating feature. The restrictions on the use of the hardware are from the vehicle’s operating system, making BMW’s subscription controversial to potential customers. “Do NOT get the heated seat subscription,” a user wrote in a Reddit forum for BMW owners on Tuesday, according to the New York Post. “The f***king hardware is in your car and you’ve already paid! And a f***king subscription on top of that is nonsense.” “This is a dealbreaker for me,” another user said, according to the Post. “If they want subscriptions they don’t get my business.” “It’s maddening, but this business model probably isn’t going away any time soon,” Jalopnik’s Lawrence Hodge wrote. “As we transition to EVs, automakers will lose out on dealer service center profits from stuff like oil changes and routine maintenance,” he added. According to J.D. Power Vice President Kristin Kolodge, carmakers benefit from the model through the “recurring revenue” that comes in continuously after buyers make their initial purchase, Insider reported. The companies also see such subscriptions as a means of keeping a “longer-term relationship with the customer and build brand loyalty,” she said, according to the outlet. Aside from the heated seats, the company is also offering other controversial subscriptions such as $12 per month for heated steering vehicles and $235 for an unlimited option to record videos using the vehicle’s cameras. The company also sells a $117 “IconicSounds Sport package” that plays engine noises inside the vehicle, The Verge reported. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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