BMW Is Now Charging $18 Per Month for Heated Seats in Some Countries

Imagine for a moment you’re the proud owner of a brand-new BMW 5 Series. One chilly morning, you try to flip on your luxury sedan’s heated seats and… nothing. Your frigid rear end sees no relief.

This scenario isn’t out of the question. BMW is now selling heated seats — and some other basic features — as a monthly subscription in certain countries. Owners who don’t pay up won’t get access, even if their car came with all the necessary hardware from the factory.

The move comes as car companies push to make more money from the software in their vehicles. Through subscriptions and the like, automakers intend to generate a steady stream of revenue (tens of billions per year, some say) that continues long after a car is made and sold.

A handful of car websites noticed this week that heated seats and a heated steering wheel popped up as monthly subscriptions on BMW’s South Korea site. (It appears they’ve since been removed.) The Verge spotted the features on the menu for BMW owners in Germany, the UK, South Africa, and New Zealand.

The heated seats cost around $18 per month, with additional options for 1-year, 3-year, and unlimited terms. A heated steering wheel will run you roughly $10-$12 monthly. Some other subscriptions BMW has on offer and their approximate cost: automatic high-beam headlights ($12/month) and adaptive cruise control with lane centering ($42/month).

BMW didn’t respond to questions about when it launched the subscriptions.

Cars are becoming more computerized and internet-connected than ever before. This means that automakers can add, unlock, or update features in their cars remotely, potentially keeping vehicles modern and relevant for longer. On the flip side, they can charge owners handsomely for doing so.

Lexus, Toyota, and Subaru all invite owners to pay for the ability to lock or start their cars remotely through an app. Super Cruise, the hands-free driving feature that’s available in some Cadillacs and Chevrolets, costs $25 per month. Tesla, which pioneered remote software updates in cars, charges $199 monthly for its most advanced driver-assistance system.

The trend has elicited customer pushback. BMW abandoned a plan to charge $80 per month for Apple CarPlay in the US following backlash. It may take some push and pull before car companies better understand what customers are willing to pay for, experts say.

“I think we’re going to see some interesting ebbs and flows of what really sticks,” Kristin Kolodge, an auto-industry analyst at JD Power, previously told Insider.

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