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BMW to Charge Monthly Subscription Fee For Heated Seats and Steering Wheel

In the year 2022, it seems like just about every corporation is attempting to get their target customer to subscribe to one service or another. Sometimes, subscriptions can make a lot of sense, and sometimes, they seem pretty ridiculous.

In this particular case, we get the feeling that most who weigh in will probably gravitate toward the “ridiculous” side of things.

First, the basics. I need to kick this one off by saying that this subscription rollout from BMW is just happening in South Korea right now. The part might shut some readers’ brains off entirely but it’s definitely a sign that BMW is testing the concept out in a smaller market and if it works, you can bet your bottom dollar that you will see it here and the good old United States of America and across the world before we know it.

I have to say that my eyebrows raised a little bit and my initial reaction was to get furious when I saw that BMW would soon be charging $18 per month to use heated seats in its new vehicles. Buyers also have the option of a $176/year or $283 for a three-year option. If a buyer wants to just purchase the option outright with no subscription, the heated seats can be purchased for $406. BMW also offers up a heated steering wheel, high beam assistance, and artificial sound for its electric cars that can be purchased on a subscription basis as well.

On the surface, when we see that regular features are being sold as a subscription model, it really is enough to make our blood boil. However, for those who own cars for a very short period of time, maybe it’s well worth the investment or rather lack thereof. For example, if somebody purchases a BMW and only plans to own it for two or three years, perhaps electing to save over $100 on the heated seats by going with the $283 subscription instead of purchasing the $406 option may make sense.

For every other owner of the car, though, it seems like a formula for disaster. While BMW seems to be tight-lipped on the details of the program, it’s likely that every subsequent owner of the vehicle is going to have to pay for the feature. In other words, the automaker would appear to be attempting to unlock residual cash flow from the sale instead of taking their money in one lump sum.

Regardless of how it all works, adding a feature to a car before hiding it behind a paywall just seems like a gross cash grab attempt under the guise of technological advancement.