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Why is BMW offering a subscription for this seemingly standard feature?

Written by: Nathan Holley, Edited by Ishani Aziz

Last week, BMW announced it would be introducing a subscription service to a basic, fundamental feature that is standard in nearly every new automobile today: Heated seats.

Now, it may seem like another subscription that BMW has fabricated to make a little extra money, such as the “BMW ConnectedDrive”, but this one does make sense.

BMW will start charging British customers £10 per month to use heated seats. Now, customers can still purchase a BMW with heated seats as an option when paying upfront for the vehicle. If a customer decides not to, the heating elements will still be installed into the car “at no extra cost”, per BMW, but will not be usable by the driver unless they subscribe to the service. This allows the customer to have a lower upfront cost when purchasing the vehicle and gives them control over when they want it. For example, a customer could only want to use heated seats in the winter, and it would only cost them £30, rather than paying for an expensive option on the car. This helps BMW earn a steady cash flow while also making some aspects of the vehicle more affordable in the short term.

Right now, the service is only available in the United Kingdom and it's not likely it will reach the United States, but it could if the service performs well in the UK and the rest of Europe.

With subscription services in cars becoming more popular, consumers could see a rise in monetization or price hikes of services such as CarPlay and Android Auto, premium infotainment systems, valet services, in-car wi-fi, and who knows, we could see subscriptions to use your steering wheel.


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