BMW pulls a Tesla by launching a subscription service — for heated seats

(Credit: BMW Media Group)

BMW recently announced that it is adding another subscription service for its vehicles, just like how Tesla charges for Premium Connectivity in its all-electric cars. What is rather unique is that BMW will be asking its customers to subscribe to features that are already built in, such as heated seats and automatic high beams. 

The update was related by the German automaker in an announcement for its Operating System 7, which will be installed in new vehicles. According to the carmaker, it would be able to remotely update every line of code that makes its cars’ systems work. 

“BMW already offers its customers digital services and additional vehicle functions in the form of digital after-sales, some of which are deeply embedded in the vehicle’s software. In the US, BMW Drive Recorder is offered through a pilot program… In the near future, additional functions will be added that can access the vehicle’s existing hardware and software, such as certain comfort functions or driver assistance systems,” the announcement stated. 

In a statement to TechCrunch, a BMW spokesperson noted that the strategy would allow BMW owners to access features as they are needed, allowing customers to use functionalities in a flexible manner. This includes subscriptions to services on an annual basis, for example. 

“In the near future, we will not only be able to add more functions here, but we will also be able to add even more flexibility for our customers with temporary bookings so booking of options for three years, for one year, or even shorter periods of time, like a few months,” the spokesperson noted.

BMW, of course, is not the only carmaker that is rolling out subscription services to its customers. Tesla, which has made a name for itself by introducing vehicles that function more like tech devices, is currently offering a Premium Connectivity package, which provides its EVs with 4G LTE connectivity. This allows vehicles to access live traffic updates, video streaming services, and software updates without a connection to a Wi-Fi network. 

However, it should be noted that built-in hardware such as heated seats are not being used for a subscription service by Tesla. The electric car maker did enable a paid upgrade for heated rear seats for the Model 3 Standard Range and Standard Range Plus, but that was a one time purchase, not a subscription. Other features that were mentioned by BMW, such as automatic high beams, are also included in Teslas by default. 

Simon Alvarez: Simon is a reporter with a passion for electric cars and clean energy. Fascinated by the world envisioned by Elon Musk, he hopes to make it to Mars (at least as a tourist) someday.
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