BMW Abandons Heated Seat Subscription Amid Low Acceptance Rates

by AutoExpert   |  8 September, 2023

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BMW has pulled the plug on its heated seat subscription service. In a recent interview, Pieter Nota, the automaker's board member for sales and marketing, revealed that BMW would no longer offer subscriptions to activate heated seats post-purchase. The reason? Lackluster user acceptance.

Nota explained to Autocar that customers didn't warm up to the idea (pun intended), often feeling like they were paying twice for a single feature. But don't worry, BMW isn't completely scrapping its subscription model. Instead, they're shifting their focus towards software and service-related products, such as advanced driver-assist systems and parking assistance features.

BMW

While BMW's heated seat subscription service caused a stir last year, it wasn't implemented in every market, with US buyers escaping the fee. Subscription services for features that were traditionally included with the purchase of a vehicle are a relatively new concept in the automotive industry. The increasing digitization of cars has allowed automakers to introduce more software-related services and paywalls to generate additional revenue.

BMW

Consumer sentiment towards these subscriptions is mixed. According to an S&P Global Mobility study, consumers are open to subscriptions if they genuinely add value. Enhanced navigation and advanced driver-assist systems garnered significant interest, but features like heated seats and remote start functionality received less enthusiasm.

In-vehicle subscription awareness remains relatively low, with only 21 percent of 2,000 surveyed in-market car buyers being aware of such services, according to a Cox Automotive study. Interestingly, 53 percent of respondents believed subscriptions were beneficial if they reduced the upfront vehicle cost, while nearly 70 percent said they would explore other brands if certain features were exclusively available through monthly subscriptions.

BMW

The automotive industry is experimenting with various subscription approaches. Volvo, for example, announced it wouldn't offer a subscription plan for heated seats, aligning with the sentiment that essential features should come standard. In contrast, Mercedes-Benz introduced a power-boosting subscription for its electric EQ models.

As subscription services continue to infiltrate various aspects of our lives, including automobiles, automakers must carefully navigate these changes. Adding features post-purchase can be attractive to consumers, but the key is ensuring that these additions genuinely enhance the driving experience without feeling like a double dip into the wallet.

BMW

In the words of Volvo's Chief Operating Officer, Björn Annwall, "We will not ask people who have bought a car for 1 million kronor [$90,000] to pay another 10 kronor [$0.90] to get extra heat in the seat."

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