Thursday, September 7, 2023

"BMW Is Giving Up on Heated Seat Subscriptions Because People Hated Them"

Well, that's a bookend.

From The Drive, September 7:

The blowback worked—but subscriptions for software-based new car features will continue, according to a BMW board member. 

Last year, BMW underwent media and customer hellfire over its decision to offer a monthly subscription for heated seats. While seat heating wasn't the only option available for subscription, it was the one that seemed to infuriate everyone the most, since it concerned hardware already present in the car from the factory. After months of customers continuously expressing their displeasure with the plan, BMW has finally decided to abandon recurring charges for hardware-based functions.

"What we don’t do any more—and that is a very well-known example—is offer seat heating by [monthly subscriptions]" BMW marketing boss Pieter Nota said to Autocar. "It’s either in or out. We offer it by the factory and you either have it or you don’t have it."

BMW's move wasn't solely about charging customers monthly for heated seats. Rather, the luxury automaker wanted to streamline production and reduce costs there by physically installing heated seats in every single car, since 90% of all BMWs are bought with seat heaters anyway. Then, owners who didn't spec heated seats from the factory could digitally unlock them later with either a monthly subscription or a one-time perma-buy option. Nota still believes it was a good idea....

The other bookend, July 7, 2020:

"BMW will start charging by the month for smart cruise and seat heaters"

What fresh (seat heaters as a service) hell is this?*
From New Atlas:

Built-in options will soon become subscription services under BMW's new sales model
BMW is looking to start standardizing its manufacturing processes, selling cars with options like adaptive cruise, smart headlights and active suspension built in, and then charging car owners on a monthly or yearly subscription model to use them.

It's a model that'll be familiar to Tesla owners, and an interesting sign of the times as the automotive industry starts to position itself for a future mobility-as-a-service model in which our traditional concept of car ownership itself might start to dissolve.

BMW itself will take an initial hit on the (not inconsiderable) cost of some of the hardware involved, but there are procedural advantages to giving every car the hardware to enable things like heated seats, Driver Recorder dashcams, the IconicSound Sport electric car engine noise designed by Hans Zimmer, and a range of other systems. If every seat has a heater built in, and every windscreen has a LiDAR system for adaptive cruise, there's that many fewer parts to design, manufacture and keep track of....

*As noted in the outro from "What Fresh Hell Is This? "Windows 10 could start bullying people into using a Microsoft account to install" (MSFT; EVIL)": 
When Dorothy Parker used the first half of the headline she meant it. See after the jump....

Mark my words, the day is coming when  the peasants storm the castle.
And on Ms. Parker:

...When Dorothy Parker used the line I purloined as our intro, she...was...not...kidding.
From Quote Investigator....

And related, November 2022:
Mercedes Now Offers A $1200 Yearly Subscription To Unlock Your Car's Horsepower, Accleration Etc. (Torque as a Service)