If you thought software subscriptions were a bad thing, wait until you buy your next BMW and have to pay $18 per month to use your heated seats.
The software development industry helped popularize the subscription model. In theory, users are far more willing to pay a few dollars a month than a single large purchase. Evidently, not content with charging users tens of thousands of dollars for buying a car, many auto manufacturers are adopting the subscription approach, with BWM already proving to be the worst offender.
According to The Verge, the automaker is charging a subscription for heated seats in the UK, Germany, New Zealand, and South Africa, although it remains to be seen when the change will make its way to the US and other countries. This isn’t the first such subscription feature, with the company transitioning several high-end features to a subscription model since 2020.
As The Verge points out, the company is not exactly touting the change, given how much its customers have been condemning the practice. It’s one thing to charge a subscription for a feature that legitimately does require ongoing upkeep, such as navigation system updates, but it’s an entirely different thing to charge an ongoing fee to unlock hardware that is already built into the vehicle.
With the cheapest BMW starting at nearly $40,000, and the most expensive model topping $135,000, it’s hard to see BMW’s plans as anything other than unmitigated greed and a desire to nickel and dime its customers for everything it can.