Despite criticism, BMW appears to be doubling down on its decision to charge owners of its cars subscription fees to access services and features, including the ability to start the engine remotely.
That certainly appears to be the case in the US, where various media reports have said the German motoring giant has expanded its list of subscriptions to include remote engine start (that’ll be US$105/year, $250 for three years or $330 for the lifetime of the vehicle, thank you very much), parking assistance and traffic camera alerts.
BMW’s Traffic Camera feature is only accessible through a $25/year subscription and cannot be purchased outright. Drivers are forewarned about stationary and mobile speed cameras when this feature is enabled.
Car manufacturers like BMW hope to make billions of dollars by charging customers a monthly or yearly subscription fee to access specific features as vehicles become more connected.
South Africans might be surprised to discover that BMW last year introduced a wide range of subscription add-ons locally, too.
In July 2022, BMW South Africa quietly rolled out several new subscription services that require additional payments for popular features, including heated seats. In many cases, the subscriptions simply enable hardware that is already installed in the vehicle prior to purchase.
BMW spokeswoman Hailey Philander explained that if a function, such as heated seats, has already been selected a buyer and purchased when ordering the vehicle, it is available without further cost. Functions ordered after the vehicle has been delivered to a buyer can be bought via the BMW ConnectedDrive Store as an upgrade.
These are the subscriptions that BMW South Africa offers, based on information TechCentral was able to glean from the BMW ConnectedDrive Store:
- Adaptive M Suspension: R7 200
- Apple CarPlay Preparation: R5 400
- BMW Drive Recorder (records scenery during a drive): R100/month or R3 850 unlimited
- Driving Assistant Plus (automatically maintains desired speed, lane and distance to the vehicle ahead): From R530/month or R14 100 unlimited
- Front seat heating: From R250/month or R6 600 unlimited
- High Beam Assistant: From R160/month or R3 000 unlimited
- IconicSounds Sport (gives the driver user-adjustable access to the sound of the engine inside the vehicle): R2 650 once-off
- Real Time Traffic Information: R900 once-off
- Remote Engine Start: From R260/month or R6 600 unlimited
- Steering Wheel Heating: From R160/month or R3 800 unlimited
- USB Map Update: R700/update
Are you a BMW owner? What do you make of the company’s push into subscriptions? Leave a comment below. — (c) 2023 NewsCentral Media