This scheme has begun in South Korea but it could be expanded to other markets soon
Owners can choose between a monthly subscription, a yearly plan, a three-year subscription, or a one-time purchase
Features available in this way are the heated seats and steering wheel, wireless Apple CarPlay, and High Beam Assistant, among others
Many automakers have been talking about offering subscription services that will work with in-car purchases but BMW is among the first to go ahead and implement this system.
The automaker recently launched a service with which owners of its cars in South Korea can log on to the ConnectedDrive store from their infotainment system in order to activate certain features of their vehicles for a fee.
In order to offer more flexibility, BMW doesn’t limit buyers to paying every month for the features they want, although this is possible in some cases.
Indeed, for most features, owners will be able to pay every month, every year, or every three years to use them. As of now, BMW still makes it possible to buy the feature outright, without a recurring fee.
It isn’t clear if the features that have been bought by the first owner would still be available to future owners since some companies have talked about resetting cars to factory settings once they are sold on the used market.
In the case of the German brand, the features that can be subscribed to include the heated seats and the heated steering wheel, among others available through the infotainment system, such as the active high beams and the wireless Apple CarPlay.
If BMW owners want to treat themselves to heated seats for the winter, they can choose to pay the equivalent of $18 US per month, $176 per year, or $283 for three years. Drivers who want to have access to this feature without having to pay a recurring fee can also purchase it normally for $406.
This means that drivers who only plan to use the heated seats from October to March each year would be better off subscribing to the feature during each of those months if they plan on keeping the car for less than four years, otherwise the outright purchase turns out to be more economical.
These types of choices will have to be weighed carefully by buyers since this will be a major revenue source for automakers, who will effectively charge drivers to use features that are already installed in their vehicle. Stellantis even estimates it could make up to $23 billion per year with similar subscription services by the end of the current decade.