Can you imagine spending $80,000 on a new BMW but then being stung for additional ongoing subscription fees to use the heated seats?
That’s the way it’ll be if BMW gets its way, according to Autoblog.com, which reports the German car maker will move to a subscription-based model for its car features that allows drivers to only pay for them only when they're used.
Read next: BMW subscription service launches in US
The announcement was made during the reveal of an over-the-air tech update for BMW iDrive 7.0, which will be sent out wirelessly to BMWs supporting the software. As well, the over-the-air install sends live Android Auto functionality, updates navigation systems, enhances the BMW voice control system as well as the Digital Key technology announced last month.
But it’s the news that BMW will introduce a subscription-based service for in-car comforts such as heated seats, active cruise control and a heated steering wheel that has caught the ire of future BMW buyers.
There’s little detail on how it would work, but cars would arrive pre-loaded with all creature comforts and owners would need to pay a time-based subscription fee in order to use them on a temporary basis.
It’s not the first time that BMW has introduced the idea. Apple CarPlay was introduced to BMW models a few years ago but owners had to continually pay a subscription fee in order to use it.
This system was in opposition to other manufacturers who either included Apple CarPlay as standard or charged a one-off option fee as is the case with other other add-on extras. BMW drew significant criticism for the subscription and has since included CarPlay as standard.
The difference (and perhaps more justifiable argument) in that case is that the option was utilising a third party's proprietary software with little or no additional hardware required to support it.
In BMW's latest cost option however, seat and steering wheel heating requires hardware that needs to be installed in the vehicle at the time of manufacturing. Whether this cost is passed onto the customer at the point of purchase is arguably the difference between an intriguing new car ownership model and customer gouging.
On the upside, BMW owners would have flexibility in which parts of their car are being used. For instance, heated seats would likely not get used in the summer and not draw a charge, likewise adaptive cruise control sees less use in the city and you wouldn’t have to pay for that unless needed during road trips, for example.
However, it’s unknown whether including all these in-car features from the factory would drive up the base cost of the car. Logic would state no, but we can’t be sure until BMW fully fleshes out the idea behind subscription-based car features.
Do you see any merit within BMW's subscription idea? Let us know in the comments below.