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Cars may become a battlefield over subscription services

Rental cars
Posted at 4:01 PM, Jul 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-13 16:01:49-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Subscription services and paying for what you used to get for free appear here to stay and the next area you may be paying extra monthly fees is in your car.

With cars almost always connected to the internet, and over-the-air updates becoming a norm from many manufacturers, the ability to change things on the car has become much easier for carmakers.

BMW's South Korean business has harnessed this technological ability into a new revenue stream. BMW South Korea announced will charge $18 a month for heated seats, or $176 a year. If you want heated seat for the life of the car, it will cost $406.

BMW South Korea also rolled out charges for heated steering wheels, permanent access to Apple CarPlay, and high-beam assist headlights, according to Autoblog.com and Jalopnik.com. BMW is no stranger to subscription services having previously rolled out a charge for Apple CarPlay, but changed course after a fierce backlash from customers.

Some automakers have even tried subscription services for an entire car, but most have pulled the plug after customers largely ignored the services.

Still, these services may be a lot closer to hitting your wallet than you think.

Industry analysts have said subscription services for cars are coming. Volkswagen pitched an idea like this: cars would come with all of the technology on the car, but you'll have to pay a monthly fee to access any of those features, Autoblog reported.

While the initial costs are hitting luxury cars, American automakers like GM are already eyeing billions in charges for in-car subscription services. GM said revenue from services could produce $25 billion in revenue by the end of the decade.

The question for automakers will become how much is too much?