BMW U-Turn: No Monthly Fee for Heated Seats, Australian plans unclear

BMW, the well-known German car company, has recently made a significant change. They have decided to discontinue the practice of charging their European customers an extra fee for using the heated seats in their vehicles. This change comes as a response to the negative feedback and complaints from customers. However, there is still uncertainty surrounding whether this unpopular fee will also be eliminated for BMW owners in Australia.

In July of 2022, BMW introduced a new offering in certain international markets. They started providing features such as heated seats and built-in dash cameras as optional add-ons, which customers could access by paying a monthly or annual subscription fee.

The controversial program made its way to Australia when the new-generation X1 SUV was launched in late October 2022. So far, this program is only applicable to the base model of the small SUV, the sDrive18i variant. For higher trim levels, the heated seats are included as a standard feature and are not locked behind a subscription fee.

Even though the BMW X1 comes with the necessary hardware for heated seats, owners in Australia are required to pay an extra fee to activate this feature. The subscription options include $29 for one month, $289 for one year, $419 for three years, or $589 for the entire lifetime of the vehicle.

Even though the BMW X1 comes with the necessary hardware for heated seats, owners in Australia are required to pay an extra fee to activate this feature.

According to Pieter Nota, a BMW board member responsible for marketing and sales, BMW will no longer provide heated seats as a subscription service, at least in Europe. The reason for this change is that very few customers were choosing to use this subscription option.

Mr. Nota explained that BMW has now decided to simplify things. They will offer heated seats as a standard feature when you buy the car, and you won’t need to subscribe separately for it. In other words, it’s now a straightforward inclusion in the vehicle, rather than a separate subscription service.

BMW initially believed they were offering customers an additional convenience by allowing them to activate heated seats later if they wanted. However, not many customers opted for this, and here’s why: some customers felt like they were paying twice for the same thing, even though it wasn’t the case in reality. BMW decided to stop this because they realized that people’s perception matters, and if customers thought they were being charged twice, it wasn’t a good idea to continue with the subscription approach.

As of now, BMW Australia has not made an official statement regarding their plans for the heated seat subscription service in the country. Dealers, when asked, have indicated that they are not aware of any changes, and the controversial program is still in effect for the time being.

BMW Australia has not made an official statement regarding their plans for the heated seat subscription service in the country.

Additionally, Mr. Nota mentioned to Autocar that BMW is looking to expand its range of subscription services in other countries by including more features related to driving and convenience.

Currently, our main focus with these “functions on demand” is directed towards software and service-related offerings. This includes features like driving assistance and parking assistance, which can be added after you’ve purchased the vehicle. We’re also exploring functions that require data transmission, similar to how customers are accustomed to paying for data in other areas.

Our observation has been that customers have a strong preference for software-based services, such as the ability to download a parking assist feature when they need it.

People understand that it’s a specific software they can download, and it comes with a price tag, just like downloading a movie or an additional feature in an app. This is a widely accepted practice, and we’re finding increasing success with it.

BMW didn’t limit its foray into in-car purchases to just heated seats. In 2020, they revealed plans to introduce subscriptions for features such as adaptive cruise control and heated steering wheels.

However, BMW received a significant amount of criticism from customers when these charges were initially announced. The backlash was so pronounced that even talk show host Trevor Noah made light of it in an episode of The Daily Show, humorously suggesting that soon you might buy a BMW and have to endure mattress advertisements every time you start the car.

Even though BMW has decided to do away with the fees for heated seats, Mr. Nota mentioned to Autocar that the company intends to continue charging for other features, such as a $20-a-month fee for driving assistance software.

It’s worth noting that BMW isn’t the only automaker adopting subscription models. Companies like Ford and General Motors have also set ambitious goals, aiming to generate a minimum annual revenue of $20 billion from software services by the year 2030.

As of now, BMW has not provided a response to a request for comments from Insider, which was sent outside regular business hours.

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FAQ – BMW’s Subscription Services and Heated Seats

Q1: What are BMW’s subscription services?

A: BMW’s subscription services allow customers to access certain features or software in their vehicles for a monthly fee. This includes features like driving assistance software and more.

Q2: Why did BMW decide to charge for heated seats initially?

A: BMW introduced heated seat charges in some markets to provide customers with the option to activate this feature later, but the uptake was low, and it led to customer dissatisfaction.

Q3: What’s happening with heated seat charges in Europe?

A: BMW has decided to discontinue heated seat charges in Europe due to low customer interest. It’s now a standard feature included when you purchase a BMW vehicle.

Q4: Are heated seat charges still applicable in Australia?

A: As of now, heated seat charges are still in effect for certain BMW models in Australia, particularly the sDrive18i variant of the BMW X1.

Q5: Are other automakers adopting subscription models?

A: Yes, other automakers like Ford and General Motors are also exploring subscription models for various vehicle features and services.

Q6: What is BMW’s strategy for the future regarding software and subscription services?

A: BMW aims to offer more software-based services that customers can download as needed, similar to downloading apps or content. This approach has been well-received by customers.

Hello, I'm David, the author behind CritiquePortal. With a passion for technology, software, fashion, and all things innovative, I embarked on a journey to share my insights and knowledge with you. As a tech enthusiast and a fashion aficionado, I aim to provide you with well-informed articles, reviews, and trends that will keep you updated and inspired. Join me on this exciting exploration of the ever-evolving world of tech and style.

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