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Coding companies want to unlock additional features from BMW

BMW is increasingly relying on additional functions in its new vehicles that have to be activated by subscription. One recent example is the seat heating system. A coding company has made it its goal to make it possible to bypass this subscription requirement.

Numerous software subscriptions

More and more car companies have recently started to rely on software subscriptions. BMW, for example, is not only testing the aforementioned subscription for heated seats, but also offers a high-beam assistant that automatically dims the headlights in oncoming traffic only in exchange for regular additional payments. Also only unlockable in the subscription model is a noise generator for electric cars such as the all-electric iX1. So far, these subscription models are being tested by BMW in South Korea.

BMW is not alone with this monetization model, however. Back in 2017, Lutz Meschke, deputy chairman of Porsche, presented the model of unlocking special functions in cars only in exchange for payment as a possible future option. At the time, Meschke cited dynamic headlights as an example that could be useful for long night drives. Tesla also generates part of its revenue by selling additional functions.

The example of Stellantis shows that such models make economic sense. In the context of the software day presentation the enterprise communicated recently to gain only over the sales of software subscriptions presumably 22.5 billion US dollar.

Hacking firm seeks to circumvent subscription constraints

Paul Smith of coding firm Bimmer Tech, which specializes in BMW vehicles, said he is open to requests from customers to unlock such additional features, “We are always listening to our customers and looking for ways to offer the features they want. As long as BMW allows seat heaters to be activated, we can consider it.” In addition to these rather moderate statements, there are also much more explicit offers from a wide variety of private individuals as well as companies, which are distributed via Etsy and eBay, for example. There the activation of the additional functions is offered against small payments.

Such offers are to be understood on the one hand as economically significant: With the increasing spread of software subscriptions, such offers are likely to become more and more of a problem for car companies. On the other hand, they raise more fundamental questions: To what extent is the subscription model viable for car buyers? Is it – especially since the prices of cars with basic equipment are unlikely to fall – a tactic of profit maximization that is publicly perceived as questionable and will make the purchase of new cars less attractive or at least undermine confidence in car companies’ products?

Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Bad Segeberg.

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BMW is increasingly relying on additional functions in its new vehicles that have to be activated by subscription. One recent example is the seat heating system. A coding company has made it its goal to make it possible to bypass this subscription requirement. Numerous software subscriptions More and more car companies have recently started to … (Weiterlesen...)

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