from the working-windshield-wipers-for-$50-extra-a-month dept
Back in July, BMW raised a bit of a ruckus when the company announced that it would be making heated seats a luxury option for an additional $18 per month. Now, Mercedes aims to take the concept one step further by announcing that buyers of the company’s new Mercedes EQ electric models will need to pay a $1,200 (plus taxes and fees) yearly subscription to unlock the vehicles’ full performance.
According to Mercedes, the yearly fee increases the maximum horsepower and torque of the car, while also increasing overall performance. Acceleration from 0-60 mph is said to improve by 0.8-1.0 seconds and the overall characteristics of the electric motors are supposed to change as well. The extra performance is unlocked by selecting the Dynamic drive mode.
As with BMW’s vision, you’ll likely see a lot of folks with more disposable income than common sense lauding this sort of stuff as pricing and technological innovation, largely because they want to justify their desire to pay a giant company extra for what they perceive as additional status.
The problem: you’re buying a vehicle with this technology (whether it’s faster acceleration or heated seats) already in the car. The cost of that technology is always going to be wound into the existing car’s price one way or another, as no manufacturer is going to take a bath on the retail price.
So you’re effectively paying for technology you already own to be turned on. Then, over time as subscription costs add up over the life of the vehicle you (and other later owners) own, you’re are paying significantly more money for that technology than what it’s worth (see: paying Comcast thousands of dollars in rental fees for a modem that costs them $50).
The need for quarter over quarter returns at any cost opens the door to rampant nickel-and-diming in the future, putting customers on an endless treadmill where paying to turn on technology you already own is constantly getting more expensive in a way that’s just completely untethered to real-world costs.
These subscription services also create an arms race with hackers and modders, with the right to repair (something you already own) debate waiting in the periphery. And the FTC is watching companies like a hawk, waiting to see if auto makers make simply enabling something you already own a warranty violation.
Filed Under: automotive, cars, electric cars, ftc, hardware, heated seats, ownership, right to repair, subscription service, warranty