BMW has started selling subscriptions for a number of its in-car features, such as heated seats and automatic headlight beam management, using over-the-air technology to permit drivers to pay for the products.
The Verge has spotted this, saying it’s the latest example of the company’s adoption of microtransactions for high-end car features.
A monthly subscription to heat a BMW’s front seats costs £15, with options to subscribe for a year for £150, three years for £250 or unlimited for £350.
This is now available in digital stores in the UK, Germany, New Zealand and South Africa. The hardware in the vehicle exists, it just needs to be switched on through an over-the-air update.
The Verge comments that “carmakers have always charged customers more money for high-end features, of course, but the dynamic is very different when software, rather than hardware, is the limiting factor”.
It adds, “In the case of heated seats, for example, BMW owners already have all the necessary components, but BMW has simply placed a software block on their functionality that buyers then have to pay to remove. For some software features that might lead to ongoing expenses for the carmaker (like automated traffic camera alerts, for example), charging a subscription seems more reasonable. But that’s not an issue for heated seats.”
(Picture – BMW)