Subscription services and pay-walled features could define the automotive ownership experience in the not-too-distant future. The rapid adoption of connected software technologies is giving automakers new ideas on how to package and sell the cars they build. There’s a downside to such a model, raising questions and concerns about who owns what, though such services could allow old vehicles, such as those from BMW, to download new tricks.
That’s what the company’s recent summer tech update does, allowing customers the chance to purchase its Remote Engine Start feature if their vehicle lacks it. Anyone who owns a compatible vehicle not equipped with the function can purchase it through BMW’s ConnectedDrive Store.
Gallery: BMW iX3 (2022)
The system, which has been available since the 2019 model year, allows owners to precondition their vehicle through their smartphone and the My BMW app, who can then set their desired interior temperature without facing the elements. It can also be activated with three clicks of the key fob’s lock button, though it will turn off after 15 minutes to save the battery and fuel.
BMW’s Remote Engine Start feature-on-demand offering is far more innocuous than other post-sale products as this is a one-time purchase. However, automakers are beginning to see the potential value (profits) in selling services and features long after the car has left the dealership lot, and that includes subscriptions to access certain vehicle features.
Earlier this year, Mercedes announced it would charge German EQS owners $575 a year to access the model’s 10-degree rear steering function even though the hardware comes installed on the vehicle from the factory. It’s just blocked by a subscription paywall. BMW even tried to charge customers £85 a year to use Apple CarPlay, though the company backed down in late 2019. However, it’s clear that the idea of subscriptions and post-sale product offerings has never left the company.