BMW kicks subscription for heated seats

[German]U-turn at BMW, when it comes to seat heating as a subscription. Announced as recently as 2020, this option is to disappear in the future. Instead, the car manufacturer wants to focus on other software services. This was announced by a BMW management representative at a recent car show.


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I've now checked, as of July 15, 2022, seat heating at BMW, available as a subscription, was a topic in several Media. Also on Twitter, there are posts on this topic. The offer is probably under BMW Connected Drive.

The seat heating is installed in the new BMW vehicles, but their owners can book the feature as an option for 18 Euros per month in the UK, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea and also Germany. There is the option for an annual subscription for 180 euros, and with a contract term of three years, it's only a measly 300 euros. In return, there are then warm seats on request, in summer at 35 degrees heat and also in winter at freezing cold.

The pioneer of this development is probably the US car manufacturer Tesla, which charges a subscription fee or additional costs for everything and anything. With the idea of charging about 80 euros per month for Apple CarPlay in the U.S., BMW is the car manufacturer but probably shipwrecked – I take at least the Focus article linked above. In November 2022, Mercedes Benz also took critics in the US for offering an acceleration feature for e-cars in exchange for an annual subscription (see Mercedes USA offers "Acceleration increase" package for EQ models only with $1200 annual subscription).

Too much trouble, too few subscriptions

This digital robbery – the customer has already paid for the installation of the hardware when buying the vehicle – has strongly polarized the clientele. There are people who love Tesla and nothing is too expensive for them. Others curse about the manufacturer led by Elon Musk. Oops, I somehow got into the wrong column, this is about BMW – and their seat heating in the subscription has caused heated discussions on Twitter.

Now I read recently at Forbes that BMW is doing an u-turn on a controversial subscription service that requires drivers to pay a fee to activate the heated seats already installed in their vehicle. Doesn't seem to have sat too well with the company. Pieter Nota, BMW's board member for sales and marketing, told the medium Autocar that they no longer want to offer such a subscription service for heated seats. According to Nota, BMW has had some experience with such subscriptions in order to test how the customer reacts.


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Nota explains in the interview that BMW thought the subscriptions would provide customers with an additional service. But acceptance among users was not that high. People felt they had paid twice – which is actually not true, according to the BMW manager. But the perception of customers is a reality, the BMW man said. That's why BMW discontinued certain subscriptions as an add-on service, he said. Namely, Pieter Nota is quoted as saying, "What we don't do anymore – and this is a very well-known example – is to offer heated seats in this way. It's either in or it's not. We offer it factory, and you either have it or you don't."

BMW plans to focus on features on demand ('functions on demand') on software and service-related products, such as driving and parking assistance, in the future. BMW owners will be able to add these later, after they buy the car. Mention is also made of certain functions that can be booked as subscriptions, which require data transfer for which customers are accustomed to paying in other areas, he said.

Pieter Nota is quoted by Autocar as saying, " "We have found that software-based services, such as downloading a parking assistance product, are very well received. People know it's a specific piece of software they can download that costs money. It's the same as downloading a movie or an additional feature in an app. That's accepted and we're doing that more and more successfully."

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