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BMW will stop charging subscription fee for heated seat

A BMW executive informed Autocar magazine that the company will discontinue its $18 monthly subscription for heated seats. Instead, the carmaker intends to maintain a subscription model for specific features. BMW drivers can now enjoy the convenience of having their heated seats activated without any additional charges.

Pieter Nota, the board member for sales and marketing at the German car manufacturer, revealed in an interview published on Thursday that consumers will no longer be billed for functionalities already included in their vehicles. This includes the approximately $18 monthly fee, or $180 annually, to activate the pre-installed heated seats. BMW cars typically range in price from the low $30,000s to the high $70,000s in the US.

In 2020, the company had indicated the possibility of implementing subscription charges for features already present in the vehicles. It appears that seat warming charges were introduced in 2022.

Nota clarified, "We no longer offer seat heating in this manner. It's either included or not. We provide it from the factory, and you either have it or you don't." He explained further during the IAA Mobility conference in Munich, "We initially thought we were providing an added service to customers by offering the option to activate it later, but the level of user acceptance wasn't as high as we anticipated. People felt like they were paying twice – even though that wasn't the case. However, perception shapes reality, as I always say. That's why we discontinued it."

Nota did not specify when the company ceased charging this fee.

BMW's foray into in-car purchases extended beyond seat warmers. In 2020, the carmaker announced plans to offer subscriptions for features such as adaptive cruise control and heated steering wheels.

After the announcement of these charges, the automaker faced significant criticism from consumers. Even talk show host Trevor Noah humorously commented on the cost in an episode of The Daily Show, quipping, "It's only a matter of time before you buy a BMW, and then you're going to have to listen to a mattress ad every time you start the car."

Despite discontinuing the seat-warming charges, Nota informed Autocar that the company still intends to implement charges for other features, such as $20 monthly for driving assistance software.

It's worth noting that BMW is not alone in adopting subscription models. Automakers like Ford and General Motors have set a target of achieving at least $20 billion in annual revenue from software services by 2030.

As of the time this information was provided, BMW had not yet responded to a request for comments from Insider, which was sent outside of regular business hours.

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