BMW optional extras now include $18 per month subscription for heated seats


Posts: 8,165   +97
Staff member
WTF?! With so many services and products now available as subscriptions, more people are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of choice and financial outlay. So, it's surprising to see BMW decide that car buyers in certain countries might be interested in more monthly payments, including one for heating the seats in their new luxury vehicle.

In what looks like a near Diablo Immortal-level of microtransaction BS, BMW is offering optional extras in its vehicles for a monthly cost. This isn't something that's available in the US, at least not yet, but you can find it on the carmaker's websites in countries including South Korea, the UK, Germany, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Going off the UK site, adding front seat heating to what is already a very expensive vehicle will cost the equivalent of $18 per month. A one-year sub will set you back around $180, three years is close to $300, or the "unlimited" option is $417.

Other extras, which have been around since 2020, include a heated steering wheel for $12 per month—the same price as adding high beam assist—and Driving Assistant Plus for $42 p/m.

This isn't a simple case of customers breaking down the cost of any optional extras they want to add to their vehicle. Hardware such as heated seats is already in place; buyers are just paying a monthly fee to remove the software block—until someone figures out a way to hack it. BMW's justification for this is that it allows a new owner to access features the original buyer chose not to purchase. It's not about making more money, honestly.

Back in 2019, BMW started charging an $80 yearly subscription, or $300 for 20 years, just to use Apple CarPlay. The outcry led to BMW backtracking and making the feature a standard one across its lineup later that year.

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Posts: 51   +86
"BMW's justification for this is that it allows a new owner to access features the original buyer chose not to purchase. It's not about making more money, honestly." I call Bull S..T on that remark, if I was someone who buys BMW's with that feature I would be dropping BMW like a "HOT POTATOE", and if I already owned a vehicle with that option and they blocked my heated seats with a software block so I could not use them any more, I would take that vehicle to my nearest dealer and burn it in the middle of their lot so all could see.


Posts: 37   +61
Never owned a BMW. Not planning to either. Love my tesla

Tesla also has weirdness like this though. They ship cars without rear seat heating enabled, but the hardware is present. People can pay later to turn it on (lump sum, no subscription model). In their long range trim levels, one can pay to enable an acceleration boost. The motors are already capable of the higher power, but you have to fork out to unlock it. They also ship cars with many more speakers than are enabled/powered (at least they used to. I'm not up to date if thats still the case). To enable that however, a 3rd party harness must be bought to utilize them

George Keech

Posts: 255   +434
The cost of Petrol in the UK no bugger will be using it - £2 a litre.

our aircon barley gets used and we are in the middle of a heatwave


Posts: 938   +1,631

I called it some years ago that stupid monthly payments or micro transactions will start being introduced into some was mostly meant as a joke, but at the same time it sounded very plausible.

Pretty soon you'll need to pay for your windshield wipers every time it rains or need to pay every time you want to use your headlights......the kicker of it will be that if you don't pay for these things the car will shut off and you won't be able to drive until you pay (or until the raining stops or it's no longer dark out and you can safely drive without headlights on).

I guess overpaying for cars these days isn't good enough anymore for BMW. Might as well monetize as much as possible.


Posts: 105   +138
This is what you get to look forward to when they make the cars fully enabled to be in constant contact with the car makers servers. They can turn things on or off whenever they want to. If you don't pay you lose that feature even though when you bought the car you paid for all of the features in the car by paying the over inflated prices for said car.

The more these car makers do this and it all of this type of thing moves to much bigger scale in more and more cars all it will do is catch the attention of hackers and modders and they will take care of this with software mods you can flash to your car and they probably will also cut the connection to the car makers servers as well so the car maker can not revert the firmware changes back to stock and lock people out of features they paid for in the cost price of the car.

To bad though we will have to go this route because car makers are going to get even more greedy and demand we pay for features that we paid for and are already installed into the cars. It not only will attract the attention of the hackers & modders that will do this to help everyone it will also attrack the attention of those that want to destroy our cars by hiding viruses in the firmware and causing our cars to either outright fail or do crazy crap or they can take control of the cars remotely.


Posts: 74   +89
People, we must fight to prevent this. Micro-transaction rent will come to more and more products if we don't stop it now. Refuse to purchase any of it. Put the indignation on blast. Do not be complacent!


Posts: 178   +220
I can’t wait for subscription based condoms.

“Sorry Sir, our bronze -membership- plan only covers STDs, not unwanted pregnancy. For that, please consider our gold plan. For more than one partner during a calendar month, you must have a platinum plan.”


Posts: 40   +25
So, what happens when BMW "drops support" of these models? Because eventually they'll stop "developing" for this platform and they'll end up shutting down the old servers. Would they enable all the blocked features at that point or will they completely disable them?

Your heated seats will stop working starting next month because your car is too old and we're shutting down our servers. Please buy a new car to enjoy heated seats.


Posts: 42   +29
Interesting concept.
This would make only sense if you get the BMW vehicle fully equipped with all the additional extras which will unlock depending on the subscription. This of course includes all extras including 500 - 800 hp engine power which will be locked down to 200 hp without the corresponding sub.

Of course I also expect the initial price for the car to be as low as the base model even if it contains all the locked-down bad-*** hardware.

The sub (one-time payment) needs to be valid for life and not limited to the specific model. So even if I get a new BMW I still only need to pay the base price but instantly unlock all premium features I subbed for.

Should be worthwhile for people who stick with a brand.
Swapping between manufacturers will not be as rewarding.

But personally I rather tend to keep my already paid-off cars for the next 70 or so years, enjoy them as long as they last and don't pay anything for new cars anymore.


Posts: 13   +25
I work for a car dealership in the UK and I would hate to try and sell/justify this to customers. What an absolute scam


Posts: 175   +101
Dumb cash grab. The hardware is there, and I'm QUITE sure they have not discounted the car in any way, you're paying full price then paying again to enable stuff you've already paid for.

In addition, if it were TRULY monthly you could at least not pay for the heated seats during the boiling hot summer months, but they are only having annual subscription.

Q Wales

Posts: 48   +11
Would never own a BMW even if it were a gifl ..... over priced, over advertised, and just not up to all it's claims.

You speaking from experience there, somehow I doubt it. Get yourself in one of their 3ltr diesels and you may change your mind. Performance, fuel consumption, gizmo's.. pretty much best bang for your buck out there. This subscription thing is total BS though. I suspect most people will tell them to stick it and get the local hacker to unlock it for a small one off fee.
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