BMW has moved to quash confusion over its new subscription services, explaining that any equipment ordered and paid for in full when the car was new will remain active and free to use for the life of the vehicle.
That clarification follows the news that in markets like South Korea and the UK buyers are now able to digitally “retrofit” options by signing up to a subscription that grants access to equipment fitted to the car from the factory but not activated. Brits can visit the ConnectedDrive store on BMW’s website and activate kit like heated seats for £15 ($18) per month, or Drive Assistant Plus active cruise control for £35 ($42) per month.
Some of the equipment, like the heated seats, can be trialed for one month at no charge, after which time drivers have the option to go back to having a cold ass or sign up to pay monthly, pay for one or three years’ usage, or to permanently unlock the feature, which in the case of the butt warmers costs £350 ($420). But BMW insists that any equipment already paid for when ordering the car will never be subjected to a subscription fee, even when the vehicle changes hands.
Related: BMW To Offer Over-The-Air Upgrades Like Heated Seats And More
Compared with the UK ConnetedDrive retail offerings, BMW North America’s Functions on Demand store is about as well stocked as a 1970s Soviet supermarket and currently consists only of a dash cam option called BMW Drive Recorder and a remote engine start function. The U.S. arm of the carmaker points out that over 90 percent of BMWs sold in America already come with heated seats, and says that while the possibility to test or purchase select options after the car has been built is a global strategy the kind of features available will vary from market to market. But it seems likely that other functions will be added to the U.S. store over time.
And BMW is far from the only automaker moving towards this subscription model. Stellantis recently announced that it is expected to generate $4.4 billion per year in services revenue from its digital marketplace for features on demand and mobility services.
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