BMW Hopes the Bad Press Around its Subscription-Based Features Will Blow Over

With over $5 billion in potential earnings from subscription-based features on the line, BMW is hoping people will give in and allow it to catch on.

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2023 BMW 760i interior
2023 BMW 760i interior
Image: BMW

BMW is really not reading the room. The company has its eyes covered and its ears plugged, while it waits for this whole bad press thing with subscription-based features to blow over. And once that happens, as Bloomberg reports, they can roll out even more subscriptions.

Just a few years ago, BMW teased its plans for the future of car features. It started in 2018 when the automaker attempted to make Apple Carplay a subscription-based feature. BMW wanted customers to drop $80 a month on something even a Kia Rio has as standard. The brand got a lot of heat for it, and went quiet.

When 2020 rolled around, BMW hinted at subscription features, through OTA updates. The automaker caught heat again, and backed off the idea. So, in July 2022, when the world caught word that BMW had rolled out subscription features in South Korea — BMW was quick to assure that North American customers would be spared. For now.

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BMW’s subscriptions are inching closer to American shores, though, as the U.K. becomes ground zero for yet another rollout of subscription features. Drivers there will have to pony up the equivalent of just over $18 for one month of heated seats, just over $150 for a year and so on. To completely unlock the seats for unlimited use it’s a one-time fee of nearly $360. All of that is going to add up real quickly.

Meanwhile, a company rep spoke with Bloomberg and said that BMW is hoping the bad press is just temporary. Especially as it looks to stick to this kind of strategy with some services.

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BMW claims this subscription approach to features will offer drivers more “flexibility,which I can understand to a limited extent. Pay for what you want and not for what you aren’t using or whatever. But again, read the room BMW. Buyers don’t want to subscribe to your cars, let alone features already installed on the vehicle. And the data certainly supports what those buyers are saying.