BMW UK is now offering ConnectedDrive owners Front Seat Heating for a £15 per month or £150 per year subscription.

BMW ConnectedDrive Services 

BMW ConnectedDrive Services use the smart / Internet connected element of the car to enable owners to use software to activate more services in the car by paying a subscription for each, without needing to visit a dealer to activate them. Subscriptions can be purchased for features such as Adaptive Suspension, Drive Recorder, Safety Camera Information (traffic camera alerts), High Beam Assistant, Steering Wheel Heating, and more.

Front Seat Heating 

The new Front Seat Heating feature can be enabled following a subscription sign-up, using an “over-the-air remote software download”. The service enables the front seats heating to be activated so that the seats warm-up “in no time” and can be individually adjusted in three levels, with the service heating the seat cushion, side bolsters, and backrest.

Other Car Companies Also Offering Subscription-Based Extras 

Other companies also offering subscription-based extras include:

– Tesla. The company started a rear heated seats service back in February 2020 for its Model 3 Standard Range and Standard Range Plus as a new over-the-air upgrade. Since then, it has added more options.

– Toyota. Last December it announced that it would be charging for a remote start key fob feature.

– General Motors. The company is reported to have added a $905+subscription for GM’s OnStar Connected Services to Buick and GMC vehicles.

Huge Revenues To Be Made From Subscriptions For Extra Services 

With these types of subscriptions, car companies appear to have found a way to increase the revenue they can make from each car on top of the sale itself, although many cars may be leased or offered as a subscription service anyway. For example, Stellantis, the world’s sixth-largest automaker has said that software subscriptions could enable it to be making $4.5 billion in annual revenue, perhaps as soon as 2026.

Criticism 

Although software subscriptions may be good news for car makers, customers have been critical of the idea. Some of the main criticisms include:

– Owning a car should mean owning everything in it instead of only actually purchasing part of it and being forced to rent other parts.

– Car manufacturers are effectively putting software blocks on part of the car which owners must pay to remove.

Benefits 

Some of the benefits of the subscription services could include:

– Giving owners of a second-hand vehicle the opportunity to add the original features of the car that the previous owner may not have used.

– Owners can purchase a short-term trial of a feature, meaning that they don’t need to fully commit to paying for a feature until they’re happy with it.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

The pandemic saw car manufacturers’ profits hit by a slump in demand and there are now many different ways to ‘own’ a car. Also, making many different variations of a car model can add costs. Technology, i.e. a ‘smart’ car and the use of software, plus a marketplace that is used to a subscription economy, have given car manufacturers an opportunity to dramatically increase their revenue from vehicles. Producing a car that already has the hardware built-in but is controlled by software blocks gives car manufacturers a way to reduce some costs and offer a faster and easier way to offer customers a kind of customisation. These subscriptions may, however, put pressure on dealerships because they are bypassed in the process. For many motorists, however, there is feeling that buying a car may no longer mean owning all of it, rather just buying the basics and having to essentially rent other parts of it, thereby raising questions about whether it fair or ethical. The situation could also result in complications over the right to repair, contractual and legal challenges, and security.

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