The desire to earn extra money on trifles turned out to be a big reputational cost for the Bavarian company, so in the future it was decided to use the subscription tool more carefully.
BMW began introducing a subscription to some popular options in its cars in 2020, last summer this process became widespread and became a byword, as well as a reason for caustic comments – they say, the buyer of an expensive German car will choose whether to buy heated seats and helm just a month for a holiday in the Alps, all winter or splurge on a lifetime membership. Taking into account the fact that the heated steering wheel and seats are paid separately, you can save money on the heated steering wheel and drive with gloves, and ensure that the fifth point, so be it, is warm and comfortable.
The subscription also includes many software options – electronic driver assistants, a video recorder, a motor sound synthesizer, but most of all, BMW customers and fans were annoyed by the need to pay for the “iron” options that the car has from the factory: heating filaments are built into the seats during their production , climate control also does not fly into the car “by air” along with an update for the navigation system, so it's strange to drive with it, but not have access to it without the notorious subscription. Many customers have felt that BMW is forcing them to pay twice for what used to be part of the base price of the car – such stinginess from a manufacturer that sets the standard in the premium and luxury segments did not find public understanding, so now BMW's program to drain money from customers will be adjusted.
Peter Nota, BMW board member in charge of sales and customer focus, told British Autocar magazine that the company will no longer sell iron-on options via subscription, including heated seats, and everything that is in the car from the factory can be will use immediately and at no additional cost.
The subscription, however, will remain for software features such as valet parking and autopilot, which are not really needed by everyone, and those who need them will willingly activate a subscription to them through the proprietary Connected Drive application. Modern cars are by default equipped with a rich set of artificial vision organs necessary for the operation of basic active safety systems (this is, first of all, an automatic emergency braking system), and it’s not a sin to ask for a surcharge for other functionality, as Tesla has been doing for a long time. It's one thing to pay for autopilot, another thing for heated seats, which is somehow undignified – especially for a BMW.
Let's add that car companies are introducing option subscriptions not only to get extra money from customers, but also to save on production: it is easier and cheaper to produce cars where “all inclusive” than to expand the range of components, taking into account different complete sets, empty and full. The global shortage of microchips and other components provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the process of phasing out diversity at the level of car production: for example, Mercedes-Benz announced last year that it would radically reduce the number of options offered.