When you think of subscription models in the automotive sector, providers such as Volkswagen or Volvo come to mind. These now offer their vehicles as an all-round carefree package in return for payment of a monthly premium. BMW now wants to go one step further and offer individual functions as a subscription. It has now become known that the traditional car manufacturer from Bavaria is offering features such as heated seats as a subscription in South Korea.
In search of the perfect business model
Experts in the automotive sector will have noticed that BMW has been experimenting with a wide variety of subscription models for years. In some cases, the company chooses the most diverse regions on earth to develop new business models. The latest guinea pig is apparently South Korea. As a report from the car experts at The Drive indicates, you now have to buy a warm butt and back there by paying a monthly fee. The company charges 18 euros a month for its heated seats. Who secures itself equal a whole year, must count on 180 euro.
But it’s not just comfort functions such as seat or steering wheel heating that BMW offers in the subscription model. Safety features such as intelligent high beams are also available for an additional fee. And you don’t have to visit one of the carmaker’s sales outlets to expand your vehicle’s range of functions. To become a subscriber, all you have to do is visit the vehicle’s central control unit. Once clicked through the menu, one can easily secure heated seats or other subscription features.
A bland aftertaste
The perfidious thing about the subscription model is that you buy a car that has far more features than you can actually use. All the technical requirements are on board the vehicle, but you can only use the features once you have taken out the subscription. Since the extended functions are already in the vehicle, it should only be a matter of time before the first resourceful programmers find a way to circumvent the subscription requirement. Examples from the competition show that this problem is quite real and must be taken seriously. The Volkswagen Group has already discovered that users have upgraded some of its models on their own initiative. So it will be exciting to see to what extent BMW wants to integrate reliable security mechanisms here.
Abomodel is becoming more and more popular
BMW is not the only company flirting with such models. The upscale Porsche brand has also been toying with the idea of unlocking exclusive features against payment of a subscription fee for several years now. But the Stuttgart-based company is taking its ideas a step further than BMW. In the area of subscription models, it is primarily thinking about autonomous driving. This could make it possible, for example, to be driven home comfortably after a hard week’s work, if you no longer want to take a seat at the wheel yourself.
We are curious to see where the journey will take us. What is certain is that, at least at VW, it will still take a little while before autonomous driving reaches a level that can be taken seriously. After all, the company is lagging behind in the development of its Cariad software. BMW, on the other hand, seems to be doing really well. As recently as June, the company unveiled its upcoming all-electric BMW iX1.