Are you willing to pay €180 per year for heated seats? €100 per year for a heated steering wheel? €300 to simply turn on your Apple CarPlay? "Welcome to microtransaction hell."
BMW has rolled out feature subscription services for vehicles sold across Europe. While your car may already come with these features installed, you will need to pay a rolling subscription, or a flat fee of several hundred dollars, in order to be able to benefit from these little perks.
The car manufacturer has already launched subscription services for features in cars sold in Belgium. Belgian BMW owners pay monthly or yearly instalments to digitally active cruise control, sport suspension, high beam assist, heated seats, and dash cam recorder.
Naturally, the subscription service has faced mockery and outrage by users on Twitter. Consumers are angry that they are being forced to pay for features already installed in the car. BMW describes the microtransactions as “adding vehicle functions.”
On BMW’s microtransaction store in Belgium, the car maker states that if the option to purchase the add-on is available, then users have the function “already factory-installed” in their cars “free of charge.” Consumers already have all the necessary hardware in their cars, but BMW has locked the services digitally to encourage users to make recurring payments.
Motoring publication Jalopnik warns that this trend is set to continue. As the electric vehicle market expands, they expect that deal service centres will be used less often for services such as oil changes and routine maintenance. This switch to microtransactions may be a move to predict this and help recoup future losses.
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In a comment to The Drive, a BMW representative explained that the decision had been motivated by a low purchase rate of certain features on their vehicles. They say that this way, motorists will pay for the features that they want. However for many online, locking features already installed in the car behind paywalls just seems unfair.