BMW Goes Ahead With Offering Feature Subscriptions in the U.S.

The German automaker is adding subscription-based access to certain features, though most options will also offer a permanent purchase price.

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Every year automakers inch closer and closer to making subscriptions for features a thing. We get it, there’s lots of money to be made. But while some automakers are still thinking about it, others are jumping in with both feet, even though the data shows people don’t want them. Mercedes already has a subscription to boost the performance of one of its EVs. Now, BMW is here to join the party, as Motor Authority confirms the brand will go ahead with subscription-based features for the U.S. market.

BMW provided Motor Authority with a breakdown of what features will require a subscription. Customers interested in any of the listed features will be able to choose between a one-time payment to have the feature forever (though one of the features doesn’t offer this option), one-month, one-year or three-year plans. The features include:

  • Remote engine start: $330 one-time fee; $10 one month; $105 one year; $250 three years
  • Drive Recorder: $149 one-time; $99 for three years, or $39 for one year
  • Traffic Camera: $25 for one year; no other options
  • Driving Assistant Plus with Stop & Go: $950 one-time fee; $20 one month; $210 one year; $580 three years
  • Parking Assistant Professional: $220 one-time fee; $5 one month; $50 one year; $130 three years
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If you notice the main thing that these features have in common is that no one else is charging for them in this way. These features are either standard or simply options on most other vehicles on the market. A Lexus ES, for instance, has remote start standard on every single trim.

BMW has taken a stubborn stance regarding subscriptions in the last year and doesn’t look like it will be backing down. Just last summer we found out BMW would start offering subscription-based features in South Korea. Curious, we asked the automaker if and when this would all be coming to the U.S. BMW assured us it wouldn’t arrive on American shores.

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Nonetheless, BMW got slammed with bad press for the move. With $5 billion in possible earnings from subscription-based features, the company ignored the elephant in the room, saying it hoped all the bad press would blow over. It looks as though subscription-based features are here to stay. At least at BMW.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Drive Recorder was only available through a one-year subscription pricing plan. We have updated the article to make it clear that Drive Recorder can also be permanently purchased with a one-time payment.