back to article FYI: BMW puts heated seats, other features behind paywall

BMW is changing up a gear in its drive to charge people subscriptions for features in their cars, effectively putting functionality behind a paywall. Jalopnik this week reported the automaker is offering drivers in South Korea heated seats for $18 a month; a $300 fee to permanently access Apple CarPlay; $8.50 a month for …

  1. Oglethorpe

    What happens if the wires to the heated seats are cut and connected directly to a nice high current wire in the loom with a toggle switch and relay?

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Copyright law

      Sounds like a blatant piracy protection circumvention, and a bajillion dollar fine and/or imprisonment.

      I'm being 90% facetious.

      C.

      1. b0llchit Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Copyright law

        Inmate #1: What are you in for?

        Inmate #2: I got life for manually heating my car seats.

        Inmate #1: What? How is that possible?

        Inmate #2: I circumvented the switch-box and installed a manual switch on the wires.

        Inmate #1: You got life for modding your own car?

        Inmate #2: Yeah, the switch-box was a digital rights management device. Circumventing it made me a vicious pirate, also because I posted a step-by-step blog of my mod. The car company sued me for all I owned and the DA wanted an example of the consequences of assuming you own your computerized stuff and crossing the profit margins of corporate rule.

        Inmate #1: Pfew! I got lucky. I shot a nobody and it got me 5 years for manslaughter. And then, during trial I killed my lawyer and got community service for that deed. Boy did that judge hate that lawyer.

        1. FuzzyTheBear
          Pint

          Re: Copyright law

          Shooting lawyers as a service .. SLAS , kind of catchy ain't it ?

      2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
        FAIL

        BMW roach car

        BMW just released additional monthly charges. $9.99 per month subscription to be able to unlock the doors to be able to enter the car. $19.99 per month to unlock the doors once in to be able to exit the car. $29.99 to be able to start the engine, but this subscription requires the other two.

        BWM is just trying to be at the cutting edge of randsomware, which is what this is.

        Obligatory quote:

        "So, if you mention extortion again, I'll have your legs broken." - Mayor Carmine DePasto (Animal House - 1978, Present VP of Marketing at BMW)

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: BMW roach car

          The option to start the engine has no prerequisite explicitly stated but the fact that you need to be INSIDE the car.

          So people can buy it first, and then realise that they need the other 2, at a premium price this time.

          And there is also the "Brakes" option, that sells at $49.99 a month, to be renewed 4 weeks before it is due and price going up $10 for each week after (the effective subscription price becoming the new monthly fee), and automatic disabling at 17:00 on the day it expires.

      3. Thicko

        Re: Copyright law

        Its the 10% I'd be most worried about!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah why would you pay $18/mo for BMW's slow arse factory heating, when you can connect it direct to the traction battery yourself and...

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Well, in the current climate (and I'm talking weather now), I reckon I'll pass on heated seats from April to October, and only pay during the cold months. Is that an option?

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          £15 a month to unlock the button on the heated seats you already have? Yeah, that's going to go down well with BMW Drivers.

          Even people who aren't happy either manually doing modifications to the car wiring or taking them to an garage who'll do it will be finding these heated seat cushions that simply plug into the existing cigarette lighter socket pretty quickly.

          And the best of it? They cost £25 quid as a one off purchase; cheaper than 2 months worth of the subscription.

          1. AceRimmer1980

            Run seat heater from power outlet?

            Fine, until:

            BMW notice this, and OTA update: your ciggie lighter 12v socket is now £25/month

            (runs power outlet straight from battery)

            "Engine management warning, detected unknown power drain, now in limp mode, please go directly to dealer, do not pass go, do not stop for lube"

            1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

              Re: BMW notice this, and OTA update

              It's ok, so long as you don't open the boot.

              (Oh, never mind).

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            "Even people who aren't happy either manually doing modifications to the car wiring or taking them to an garage who'll do it will be finding these heated seat cushions that simply plug into the existing cigarette lighter socket pretty quickly."

            I'm going to have a set of those come winter!

            An EV that I fancy has a couple of different trim levels and the heated seats come packaged with the sun roof which I do not want (major failures eventually and I never find myself needing to look up through the roof) and a bunch of other things I can do without. I was thinking that I could get the bog standard model and hit the scrap yards for a set of the heated seats and the switch from a wrecked car. Many cars have the options fitted in the wiring loom since it's cheaper to do it that way than to have several different inventory items and dealers can upgrade without digging into the fabric of a new car and messing things up. The aftermarket heating pads are likely much cheaper and easy to replace when they fail.

        2. vincent himpe

          if you don't pay in summer they turn them ON

      2. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch
        Gimp

        It's BMW drivers we're talking about here. Some of them would probably pay more than $18/month to have someone apply electrodes to their buttocks.

      3. chivo243 Silver badge
        Trollface

        If you can afford a Beamer, you can afford a heated garage, no need for heated seats... Just leave the car running the whole time you're away, you can afford a Beamer, you can afford to let run all the time and save yourself 18 quatloos for a hotseat...

    3. oiseau Silver badge
      WTF?

      What happens if ...

      What happens if you tell BMW to shove their POS car up their corpotate asshhole and buy a decent car?

      A subscription to use a part of the car I have already paid for?

      WTHF is going on?

      Has the world gone absolutely mad?

      O.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge
        Boffin

        Most cars (in the UK at least) aren't bought any more. People just pay a monthly fee for 3 or 4 years then return the car. I'm sure all these 'optional' extras will be added to bundles as we see already. Winter Pack, Adventure Pack etc etc.

        I don't think it will make much difference to the purchase of a NEW car.

        Interesting bit will be what happens in the 2nd hand market. All the optional extras generally have a zero price as far as the resell price is concerned. If you buy 2nd hand on a loan of (say) £200 per month, are you really going to be willing to pay half as much again for the extras?

        1. Neil 8

          Yeah I think this is a big part of the justification internally too: When you sell your car your account isn't transferable, so your subscriptions end.

          I have a(n extensively) used 2015 i3 and I guess this was a test model for the "connected drive store", since this is where I have to pay if I want map updates, online access, etc.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "Most cars (in the UK at least) aren't bought any more. People just pay a monthly fee for 3 or 4 years then return the car."

          At least until all those "smart young things", renting everything, owning nothing, start approaching pension age and suddenly realise they should have been paying into their pension pot, not renting heated seats and will not have a car once the pension kicks in and the salary stops, and now can't afford 90% of the "stuff" they've been renting all their lives.

          That's probably be the next "pensions crisis".

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            "That's probably be the next "pensions crisis"."

            They just sell some heroin blatantly on a street corner so they can plead guilty and get a nice long sentence. There are some prisons now with a pensioners wing. 3 hots and a cot plus a bunch of other old folks for a nice game of canasta or the old favorite of one upsmanship made famous by Monty Python's "Four Yorkshireman". There was a TV special on that. It's a bit sad, but many old people that have lost everybody and can't make ends meet wind up taking this route so they can live indoors and eat on a regular basis. The prisons are more expensive to operate than an old folks home, but they don't really need to guard these "criminals" and any fights last about 2 seconds until somebody falls down and needs to go to hospital for a broken hip.

      2. 9Rune5
        Unhappy

        and buy a decent car?

        You can't: SAAB Automobile went out of business ten years ago. :( If you want to buy a new SAAB today you'll find yourself stuck in a fighter jet.

        1. LogicGate

          And exactly why is this a problem?

          1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
            Flame

            Have you seen the price of A1 jet fuel? If you thought petrol was expensive, wait until you see how much the daily commute costs in one of those.

            1. genghis_uk

              Just keep away from the afterburner!

              Viggen Fuel Use

            2. vincent himpe

              as long as the plane comes with a couple of air to surface missiles.... get the riffraff off the road and out of my way

        2. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

          Our 20 year old Kombi is still going strong, and is far more comfortable than my Mercedes. What possessed GM to kill Saab?

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            The clue is in the question, still going strong. If they sell you a car that lasts 20+ years, that's no more business for them for that amount of time. They's much rather sell you something shiny and new, which the bottom rusts out of in 10 years. The more expensive the car, the more likely this is to happen, because that repeat business is more valuable to them.

            1. R J

              Used to have the Mercedes and Peugeot import company in my country as one of my customers. They had the whole stack, both selling new cars, workshops, parts etc.

              The money for THEM (they told me) was in service and repairs. Selling a new car got them next to nothing.

              Of course, the producer is a different matter. Still, used to be they gave something to those further down the chain. But these days it seems to be all about monthly subscriptions and to heck with everyone else.

              I dread the day I have to replace my by now 21 year old Volvo.

          2. myhandler

            They sold Saab's engine tech to China - even though that was specfically blocked in the buy out clause when GM bought Saab. But corporate lawyers always find a way round.

          3. Someone Else Silver badge

            What possessed GM to kill Saab?

            It's GM...they need a reason to do something butt-stupid?

            The actual reason was probably that Cadillac owners felt threatened...

          4. MachDiamond Silver badge

            "What possessed GM to kill Saab?"

            Geely wasn't interested in buying it.

        3. Kane Silver badge
          Coat

          "If you want to buy a new SAAB today you'll find yourself stuck in a fighter jet."

          That will just make the daily commute fly by!

          I'll just see myself out, shall I? Mine's the one with the parachute sewn into the hood

      3. Plest Silver badge
        Facepalm

        The world hasn't mad, there's a just a lot more mugs about willing to pay any money asked of them for a specific company logo on the front of their "fanny magnet/dick extension"!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You mean that the purchase price isn't lower to compensate????

          1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
            Trollface

            why would it be lower?

            think of the shareholders!

      4. ChrisC Silver badge

        I guess the question here is whether or not you have actually paid for the part of the car covered by the subscription model, or if BMW are just using this as a way to essentially reduce their lineup to a single build-spec per model, with the spec features normally offered only on the higher-spec models or as optional extras on lower-spec models being physically present in ALL cars, but only enabled either at the factory when someone opts to purchase a "higher spec" model from the outset, or post-purchase by the owner as and when they think to themselves "damnit, I really wish I'd opted for feature X now"...

        I can see this being a potentially very smart move for BMW if it means they can rationalise how many different versions of the same component - reduced inventory costs/greater economies of scale - and also reduce how many different options the production line workers need to deal with when building each individual car - potentially reducing the time taken to build each car, or increasing the build quality by giving workers fewer different build procedures they need to be trained for.

        It'd also bring benefits to anyone looking to buy a used BMW, because every such car that hits the second hand market then has the capability of being reinitialised to whichever spec level the next buyer wants - the only things they'd be stuck with from the original buyer would be those things that couldn't be accommodated with a simple on/off switch, such as wheel styles/sizes, bodyshell colour etc. Imagine being able to head to your local used car dealer knowing that, so long as they had *any* BMW model XYZ's in stock, you'd be able to reconfigure any of them with whichever spec level you wanted, rather than either having to patiently wait for the right spec level to show up in a dealer somewhere, or compromise on spec just because you needed to get a car sooner rather than later...

        Now, there absolutely is real scope for BMW to use this as an opportunity to double-charge owners for access to certain features, but let's not overlook the potential benefits.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          You have a point, but I think it will very much depend on the uptake of the many and varied subscriptions for the various features. There will be a breakeven threshold and if it's not met, it could cost them a pretty penny. I suspect that's why they are trying it out in SK. They love their gadgets there.

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Frankly, none of these "benefits" appeal to me in the least.

          But as I've noted elsewhere, I'm unlikely to ever buy a new car again, because they all seem to come with touchscreens.

        3. FatalR

          They will get to a point where its "too old" to support, and won't be able to enable features.

          This may happen even if you're the 1st owner 10 years down the line, even if you paid to permanently unlock something.

          They even say "as long as the technical prerequisites are met for this vehicle".

      5. Ididntbringacoat

        "Has the world gone absolutely mad?"

        That's a rhetorical question, right?

        Rght?

      6. Alan Brown Silver badge

        VW are doing it too in the UK

        A good reason not to buy

      7. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
        WTF?

        It's not as if the firmware could be hacked. Oh, wait...

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "It's not as if the firmware could be hacked. Oh, wait..."

          Shhhhhhh. Wherever there is crisis, there is opportunity.

      8. vincent himpe

        well... there's gas , and road tax. they are recurring costs to use the car you already paid for...

        typed from my smartphone , on a cellphone subscription and other subscriptions

        it's become and endless "milk the cow" game and finding more ways to milk.

        1. Someone Else Silver badge

          ...but choosing where to milk...

    4. hoola Silver badge

      Probably the entire car stops working as it will have detected tampering.

      We are not far off that with all the CANBus stuff now anyway,

      Utter tossers, the trouble is that people will pay validating BMW's decision to go down this route. Certainly in the UK most cars are on some sort of personal leasing or corporate leasing when they are purchased new so a few extra pounds a month will just be absorbed. What happens when the car is then sold on is anyone's guess.

    5. Helcat

      What happens if you decide to replace the seat with a new heated seat?

      Sure, it >might< void warrantees, but it's your car*: You can mod it if you want, as long as it conforms to the standards as set in law.

      So go for it: Take the old seat out, get a new heated seat (hey, guess what you just found sitting there by the car! A car seat that matches the car, and it's wired for heating!) After market parts to control the heating element and... sorted!

      *If the car is registered in your name then it's your car legally and you can mod it. Only thing to watch for is if you're on a PPP, then you need to be mindful of the T's and C's, so you might need to put the original seat back in and remove the mods before returning the car, if that's what you decide to so.

      1. Radio Wales
        Stop

        >If the car is registered in your name then it's your car legally and you can mod it.<

        The registration confers nothing of the kind, at least in the UK. It only means you have legal authority to keep it.

        I.E. Registered KEEPER.

        I think you are missing the base point here, The car has all the extras already built in, but are inactive until an extra dollop of cash allows some or all of them to be activated on a rental basis.

  2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Sounds like an excellent reason to tell them to go f-themselves.

    1. EVP

      Yeah, and they are stupid too: they should have implemented demand based gouging: summertime $1/mo, winter $49.99/mo, below -10 C $149.99/mo. What a wasted opportunity.

      They are probably crying bitterly that seat belts, headlights and wipers are required in MOT. But wait, there is always lobbying…

      1. EVP

        On a second thought, hey are even stupider than I first considered: sell heated seats off-switch subscription instead. Everybody would subscribe.

        Hey, Beemer if you are reading, I’d have some more bastard ideas for you. I’ll license them to you.

        1. NXM

          hot botty

          I would've considered paying for that on the tractor last year.

          It was getting really really hot in the cab and I couldn't work out why. Aircon on full blast. I felt like a chunk of roast pork, hardly suprising in summer when you're in a mobile greenhouse with a bloody big 120hp heater at the front, shut in a cab with a rogue heater. I put a towel on the seat which helped, but it was still far too hot. After a few days I had to look at the manual (only an amateur has to look at the manual) and found a tiny switch on the seat in an obscure position you'd never expect that had got pressed by accident and turned the seat heater on.

          Didn't even know it was there.

          1. EVP

            Re: hot botty

            Driving a recent JD and nobody could not be bothered to come and fix your aircon? I hope not…

            Sorry to hear about your trouble.

          2. Anomalous Cowturd
            Facepalm

            Re: hot botty

            I drove around in my shiny new Pug 406 Estate for three months before I discovered it had a CD changer in the boot...

      2. katrinab Silver badge
        Trollface

        So then you will need an up to date headlight subscription to pass your MOT. Trebles all round.

        1. Persona Silver badge

          Don't joke. My BMW already has auto dimming headlights that can be "software activated" for a fee. Needless to say this feature has not been activated.

      3. Lis

        @EVP

        "Demand based gouging"? Young man (at my age everyone is younger than me) you are so pre-Uber. I am sure you mean "surge pricing". Same thing, but so much more on trend (do people still say that?) don't you think?

        Ishy

        1. EVP

          ”Same thing, but so much more on trend (do people still say that?) don't you think?”

          I’m so out of the loop*, surge prising of course! I definitely need some help before I approach** Beemer with my*** devilish innovations. Come along to be my advisor? We’ll split licensing fees and laugh together on our way to bank.

          * I got that right, didn’t I? Oh wait, that’s so noughties…

          ** Reach?

          *** Stolen, er, borrowed from El Reg.

      4. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

        If you read the laws carefully, you may discover that these equipments are required to be installed, but there is nothing that says that they are supposed to work outside the time there is a control...

        And we already know that automakers know how to detect a control is performed, don't we?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re. Sounds like an excellent reason to tell them to go f-themselves

      99.9% of current and prospective bmw drivers would disagree with you. I'm afraid.

  3. Number6

    Sounds like an excellent reason to stick to the used car market for now. OTOH, if it's a subscription service and the hardware fails, are they liable to fix it at their expense? That sort of turns it into an indefinitely renewable warranty.

    1. Woodnag

      So when a used car is sold...

      ...it needs to be very clear what is being sold, and what was simply being rented by the seller.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So when a used car is sold...

        well, we have letting and sub-letting business already. Wouldn't you, as one previous, careful owner, want to receive a steady stream of INCOME! even after you sold 'your' car - in cooperation with Shitty Ltd, carefully selected BMW business partner?

    2. Woodnag

      So who is responsible for fixing the heated seats if they fail?

      Who actually owns the heating hardware?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So who is responsible for fixing the heated seats if they fail?

        well, heating hardware has been licenced, presumably. I mean, hell, if you look at an average laptop, which is a jumble sale of bits and pieces from various manufacturers, presumably they ALL have been licenced to that laptop 'brand', haven't they?

        1. Woodnag

          Re: So who is responsible for fixing the heated seats if they fail?

          You don't licence hardware: you buy it or rent it.

          If the heated seats hardware is part of the car purchase then any mods you do which don't violate copyright are your business.

          1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: So who is responsible for fixing the heated seats if they fail?

            You didn't read the T&C that come with the software needed to run the hardware, did you?

            1. Mark 65

              Re: So who is responsible for fixing the heated seats if they fail?

              The good thing about T & C for software is you don't have to read it, especially if you don't intend using the software. Also worth noting that the majority of EULAs etc are unenforceable outside the US as they generally infringe on the odd statutory right here and there.

      2. Falmari Silver badge

        Re: So who is responsible for fixing the heated seats if they fail?

        Not the car owner by the looks of it.

        If you go to their site you have monthly, yearly, and 3 yearly subscriptions. The is also a unlimited option for £350. But only unlimited has this little note "[1] Unlimited as long as the technical prerequisites are met for this vehicle"

        Now idea what that means but I would guess that they may change something at a later date on their servers meaning your car can no longer talk to them. When that happens heated seats will no longer work as they won't get an authentication signal.

        That note is on all they extras that have an unlimited choice cruse control, adaptive suspension etc. Looks like at some time in the future they could all be turned off.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: So who is responsible for fixing the heated seats if they fail?

        "Who actually owns the heating hardware?"

        You own the hardware, but you don't own the software/firmware in the car. If you mod the software, you are committing a felony in some countries that have adopted the really horrible USA DMCA laws. You are thinking "ok, fine, I'll just bypass the normal control electronics in the car and buy something third party or brew up my own". What happens is the car doesn't detect the heating elements and throw ups a code that will keep you from passing your next MOT. It might be a code that requires you to take the car to a dealer for a very special reset procedure and that will cost you, but you will have no choice and they know it, you naughty boy, you.

        As soon as these games are played, there doesn't seem to be a good outcome. You could find down the road that something breaks you can live without but it causes other problems that can't be ignored for whatever reason. For want of a £8,000 ECU, the car was useless. Never mind that you never use the medium fan setting on the HVAC anyway.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: So who is responsible for fixing the heated seats if they fail?

          "For want of a £8,000 ECU, the car was useless."

          So install an aftermarket ECU that is actually user programmable for under $2000, possibly under $1500, maybe even under $1000 if you're not planning on hotrodding it. Prices include all the bits of wiring harness you night need to facilitate the swap. There are several name-brands to choose from. I don't recommend the chinesium varietals.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why?

      You can get a perfectly good NEW car without crap like that.

      $18 a month warranty on the $30 (see Amazon) car seat heater? Are you for real? I also doubt it has any warranty with it.

      Don't enter into any contract with BMW on the purchase of a new car, here they're trying to force you to lease an overpriced car seat heater, but they could do all manner of shit there:

      e.g. force you to use their official parts service, or only service at their dealerships, or only fuel at approved filling stations (think kickback), or only travel on approved ferries, or force you to use certain toll roads for certain journies.....

      e.g. agree to track and resell your location data to ad people, or agree to sell your car usage data metrics to insurance companies, to creepy governments etc.. This is already a big issue with connected cars.

      Imagine the kickback BMW could get if they let an insurance company wiggle out of their policy with you by citing the car usage data against you (Musk style).

      Or the kickback they could get from auto-fines for reporting you travelling 70kmh in a 60kmh zone, from your location data.

      BMW do not make batteries, but they do buy batteries from Varta (?), slap their part number on them and resell them at huge markup. A contract like that would let them extract huge future profit from you just on parts alone if you had no choice and couldn't say "nope that price is too high I will buy the Varta battery instead of the badge BMW/Varta battery".

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Why?

        Next up - Batteries with DRM & unauthorized electrical load detectors built into the Loom.

        All 'for your safety'

    4. skalamanga

      I'm sure there was a case recently when tesla autopilot was removed from a used car when it was sold on

      1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        There was, but that was a little different IIRC.

        It was bought from a dealership who had had autopilot enabled so it coukd be demo'd on test drives. It was then sold without autopilot, but they forgot to turn it off initially.

        Still a good example though tbh.

        It all feels like gouging - if the hardware is installed then presumably what you paid for the car covers it (otherwise they'd be making a loss). There's no ongoing cost to them of you being able to use the heated seats.

        I remember having a similar argument with Audi - the car's head unit supported being connected to a CD changer, but you couldn't just do it yourself because it had to be enabled in the ECU (well, the body computer really). Really is just rampant profiteering.

        1. Dinanziame Silver badge
          Devil

          if the hardware is installed then presumably what you paid for the car covers it

          Ha ha. Tractor makers sell you machines with more or less power, but it's all the same machine, throttled to output only the power that you have paid for.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Some car makers also do that. It's not uncommon for several models to have exactly the same engine, but different power outputs controlled by software. Flashing the ECU with the software for a more expensive model can sometimes get you 50 extra horsepower.

            1. F. Frederick Skitty

              I had a Honda like that, but the reason for the different configurations was to meet varying emissions rules. So in the UK my car was restricted to lower performance than it would be in Japan, since at the time the UK had stricter emission rules. There was even a variant of the same car with a more powerful engine that was only available in Japan for the same reasons.

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              "Flashing the ECU with the software for a more expensive model can sometimes get you 50 extra horsepower."

              A friend of mine did that and only because he knew the service manager at the dealership very well was he able to get the engine replaced when it went boom. Just saying that doesn't always work so well. In days long gone, it wasn't too big of an ask to tune up an engine for a bunch more power. They aren't built with that much margin in them anymore.

        2. jmch Silver badge

          "It all feels like gouging - if the hardware is installed then presumably what you paid for the car covers it (otherwise they'd be making a loss). There's no ongoing cost to them of you being able to use the heated seats."

          That's perfectly true... Counterintuitively, it is cheaper for BMW* to produce all cars at the highest hardware spec than to put in only the hardware that has been ordered and paid for. That's because the physical cost of the parts is less than the manufacturing cost of having to keep track of which part goes into which car. (That alone should tell you enough about how much they are overcharging for the extras - they charge hundreds of dollars for hardware that costs them dollars).

          So why don't BMW just produce a single top-spec version of each model instead of various options with different specs? Simple, they don't want to lose out on the customers willing to pay $60k by pricing the car at $80k, but they also want people who can afford $80k to pay $80k, so they "need" to have different pricing available even if it's pretty much the same thing. And they somehow have to justify the difference in pricing even though they sell both customers the same car.

          It's the same principle as Starbucks or any other coffee shop really... the bewildering array of options (bonus if in pseudo Italian) and flavourings is there to mask the fact that they want to be able to charge richer customers more than poor customers for what is essentially the same product (hot water with some sort of additives), all of which have the same basic cost to them (because their major cost is rents and wages, and the raw material going into the drink is almost a rounding error in their budget)

          *and all other carmakers, by the way

          1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

            A pricing model similar to that used for IBM mainframes in days gone by.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Counterintuitively and totally false.

            They buy their seats from suppliers like Magna, Magna do not throw in electric heating in the seat for free. Each seat is matched to the trim and interious color and style of each car, everything from the heating to any massage feature is part of that order and can be car specific. BMW pays for that feature, and that cost is passed on to you. BMW know the exact part number, and serial number of each and every part in the car. Not just the *type* of part, the individial production serial number.

            https://www.just-auto.com/news/magna-opens-first-bmw-seat-supply-factory/

            They, like every other manufacturer try to make as much money selling a feature as possible, and like many before it, BMW thinks it can screw over its customers to maximize profit. You won't pay $18 a month for heated seats because that's a ridiculous price, but when your ass is super cold you might.

            1. Justthefacts Silver badge

              Component cost is not production cost

              It’s certainly true that BMWs component cost rises. But their overall production cost may well fall.

              You’re actually *understating* the amount of customisability and tracking. Recent report I saw said one car company had 70,000 potential option variants for one of its models. And out of those 70,000 variants, combinatorially, 98% of them they sell *zero or one units per year*. But they still have to arrange their entire assembly line to manage all options. They’ve worked out that they could reduce their total build time end-to-end from *four months to six weeks*, if they could build only the 2% of variants that anybody buys. But they don’t know which ones those are until after they start selling, when the production line is already fixed.

              Imagine the savings in logistics and storage, plus capital efficiency, by more than halving their build time. And that’s still selling 1400 variants. Not even focusing on the top 100.

              This is a rod the car companies made for their own back. Their problem is, the only reason to pay the new car premium vs second hand, is to give customers the experience of buying bespoke cars. But the production cost of doing so is killing the car companies. And they can’t get off the treadmill, because their competitors do it. Used to be you got a choice of three engines, three body-shapes, five colours, maybe electric windows and that’s that. 100 variants. That was a classic industrial production-line. But it no longer is.

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              "You won't pay $18 a month for heated seats because that's a ridiculous price, but when your ass is super cold you might."

              And then you hit the auto-pay button or it's the default and you never have to deal with it again. Most auto-pay schemes are a way to get you to not make a conscious decision each month whether to continue getting something or not. Wonder why you are alway broke on the last day of the month? Take a close look at all of that stuff that eats away at your bank account.

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            "it is cheaper for BMW* to produce all cars at the highest hardware spec than to put in only the hardware that has been ordered and paid for"

            Japanese TV makers learned this one a long time ago - and they generally just bundled everything.

            It's actually cheaper and more profitable to "enable everything" and sell for a lower overall price than to nickle-and-dime the customer for every little feature

            The mentality we're looking at is exactly what drove people away from buying British cars back in the 1960s (along with absolutely rotten quality) and is a good indicator that the companies in question have been taken over by spivs

            1. seldom

              FTFY

              The mentality we're looking at is exactly what drove people away from buying British cars back in the 1960s (along with absolutely rotten quality) and is a good indicator that the companies in question have been taken over by MBA's

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              "It's actually cheaper and more profitable to "enable everything" and sell for a lower overall price than to nickle-and-dime the customer for every little feature"

              That was true when those features had to be sold once and done. A monthly or annual subscription is a profit center that keeps on giving.

              Paying Adobe every year for Lightroom and Photoshop turned out to be a good deal and they haven't done a bait and switch like I worried about in the beginning. I'm paying less than I did with the boxed software and I'm getting more so for this case a subscription seems to work. For many other things, I want to own it outright as it stands and then decide when it makes sense to upgrade.

          4. Mark 65

            I'm not sure that free market economies exist any more but let's just suppose that they do. In which case the car manufacturer that chooses to be the least biggest c*nt should eventually reign supreme.

          5. MachDiamond Silver badge

            "Counterintuitively, it is cheaper for BMW* to produce all cars at the highest hardware spec than to put in only the hardware that has been ordered and paid for. That's because the physical cost of the parts is less than the manufacturing cost of having to keep track of which part goes into which car"

            Nope, BMW's Mini plant in the UK builds Mini's where every car coming down the line is a bit different than the last. The parts are sequenced at the build stations and the travelers (build docs) tell each station what gets installed or skipped. Nearly every one of those are destined for a customer order.

            James May, Kate Humble and another presenter I can't ever remember did a 3-part series where they followed a Mini build from coiled steel to final checks (well, almost). Definitely worth finding and watching.

            I think it's more that grouping all of the options they want to offer is getting harder so they can just sell options ala carte for even more money than they'd get if a person ordered up special. Most options are not very expensive but have the highest profit margins. The name brand stereo is built in China with everything else, but you get more speakers and they have a badge on them from a company that used to put out good stuff until they were sold several owners back and finally to the same multi-national that makes all of that.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Cisco do that...

          want to upgrade your 800-series router's memory from 500Mb to 1Gb... license

          want to upgrade the 'throughput' of your ISR4000-series from 100Mb/s to 200Mb/s... license

          want to use the 10GE ports built in to your ASR1001X... license

        4. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "It was bought from a dealership who had had autopilot enabled so it coukd be demo'd on test drives. It was then sold without autopilot, but they forgot to turn it off initially."

          There was another story where the previous owner of the car had a subscription to the Autopilot/FSD/BS system and the car was sold on through auction with the option advertised as being installed and was working when sold to the customer when the option was disabled by Tesla after a period of time and the fun began. It turns out that Tesla sells the subscription to the option to the owner, not as something that's licensed to a particular car so the owner could swap cars and assign the subscription to their new car. It was likened to having aircon fitted at a time when it was an option, it went with the car when it was sold on and not something the seller would have removed or could demand after the new owner took possession.

    5. Lon24 Silver badge

      Roll on ...

      "Sounds like an excellent reason to stick to the used car market for now. "

      Now being the operative word. Come the next decade a car sale/transfer will be a manufacturer disconnection with a re-connection fee re-activate the vehicle. Plus an extra sub to stop the 'in-car-entertainment' playing all the optional exciting added functionality subscription ads they forgot to add when sold new. Like turning the heat on in winter & AC in summer.

      Roller blades may be the alternate freewheeling future ... except they may infringe BMW's RR trademark ;-)

      1. CountCadaver

        Re: Roll on ...

        How long before various online sites are hawking "functionality tester" boxes to activate all those features… .....

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Roll on ...

        "Come the next decade a car sale/transfer will be a manufacturer disconnection with a re-connection fee re-activate the vehicle"

        At that point the vehicle becomes the property of "my vehicle trust, inc" and the transfer becomes one of shifting the trust instead of the asset

        Or, there are "market rearrangements" (forced by governments legislating or by someone entering the market who doesn't pull these underhanded stunts)

        The spectacular ethics gaps of USA companies (Uber's bribery and corruption antics in the EU for example) now coming to light is likely to result in a pretty large kneejerk clampdown on a lot of stuff over the next decade

  4. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
    Holmes

    Nice Car...

    be a real shame if it got into accident, but for a small consideration....say $30 a week, we could ensure your brakes continue to work.....up to you mind....no pressure.....in fact no pressure at all in your brakes....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice Car...

      As an extension of that a fee to allow your performance vehicle to travel over 30 Mph or better still that the airbags go off in an accident.

      Non of this applies to Porsche as the average life span of the owner is 10 to 15 days .

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: Nice Car...

        You think you’re joking but there was a kerfuffle a few months ago - sorry, CBA to look up the details - about a motorbike jacket with a built-in airbag, where the airbag functionality had a monthly subscription to enable it.

        Come off your bike and are flying through the air towards a telephone pole? Welp, better have your credit card ready to renew that airbag subscription…

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nice Car...

          This world is going to hell in a handcart!

          1. Mark 65

            Re: Nice Car...

            This world is going to hell in a subscription BMW!

            1. David 132 Silver badge

              Re: Nice Car...

              And it doesn’t even have warm buttocks while doing so.

  5. Pen-y-gors

    Monthly?

    Heated front seats start from $18 (£15) a month.

    Well, in the UK you'd probably only want those for a few months over winter, so subscribe in November and cancel in March.

    1. theOtherJT

      Re: Monthly?

      Nope. No way in hell. That's just encouraging this sort of thing. This needs a hard, concerted "No" from customers everywhere before this disease starts to spread. It's dumb enough with software, the last thing we need is it infecting automotive.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Monthly?

        A simple solution all round to heated/cooled seats: stop installing leather and go back to cloth seats. They're usually comfier, they don't conduct heat like leather does, and they're cheaper.

        Oh, wait. Cheaper. No, that would never do.

    2. skalamanga

      Re: Monthly?

      Seriously? I think you have that backwards, it's air conditioning you only need for 2 days a year in the UK.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Monthly?

        Are you being tongue in cheek or do you genuinely not understand that air con is useful for more things than just cooling a car interior?

        It is most useful right through the winter, especially on chilly mornings. This is the kind of discussion I have have to have with my grandparents.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Monthly?

          Yeah, had to go in a taxi a month or so back and they didn't have the air con on, oh boy do modern cars steam up quickly without AC. I used to think my Hillman Imp was bad back in the day, but I guess it leaked like a sieve so there was always so air circulation. This Merc must have been done up tighter than a politician on the witness stand. The driver kept having to try things like the heater, works for a minute, open the window, that works a bit better but the weather wasn't good...

          1. Julian 8

            Re: Monthly?

            Ah, but the AC is the biggest fuel drain killer. Put it on and watch your fuel gauge move quickly.

            Yeah, OK, you idiot, modern AC units are far superior and less taxing on the engine than when the above comment was made

            1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
              Holmes

              Re: Monthly?

              Not in my car. Putting the AC on stops it from trying to regen the DPF, so my fuel consumption actually goes down.

              I must sort out the DPF properly at some point...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Monthly?

                I must sort out the DPF properly at some point...

                You mean remove?

            2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: Monthly?

              Ah, but the AC is the biggest fuel drain killer. Put it on and watch your fuel gauge move quickly.

              It might be a noticeable difference when idling, but otherwise it's a rounding error.

              As an illustration, last year I both got the broken air-con in my car fixed, and had a full service and oil change. The fuel efficiency didn't noticeable change after fixing the air-con (still doing around 300 miles to the tank), but after the service it improved to about 330 miles to the tank.

              The biggest fuel drain killers are probably worn spark plugs and old oil. The air con compressor is driven by a tiny belt and flywheel attached to the engine, in order to compress a relatively small amount of freon, whereas the engine is driving the wheels on a tonne or so of metal. The amount of energy used by each is not comparable.

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: Monthly?

                "The air con compressor is driven by a tiny belt and flywheel attached to the engine, in order to compress a relatively small amount of freon"

                Depending on your car and how fast you're going, there could be a big aerodynamic difference between windows up and windows down. Windows up and aircon on might be more efficient at motorway speeds.

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: Monthly?

                  "Windows up and aircon on might be more efficient at motorway speeds."

                  There is no might about it, it Is more efficient. This has been proven time and time again.

            3. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Monthly?

              "modern AC units are far superior and less taxing on the engine than when the above comment was made"

              Yup. I have an EV. The AC on mine draws 1kW at full song - usually less

              Modern vehicle ACs are a far cry from their ancestors

            4. Giles C Silver badge

              Re: Monthly?

              Well I had an old 1997 bmw e36 and the air conditioning compressor seized, brought the car to a complete halt. So in that case it did drain the engine power completely.

              But yes modern cars they don’t really cause that much of a drain these days

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Monthly?

                "Well I had an old 1997 bmw e36 and the air conditioning compressor seized, brought the car to a complete halt. So in that case it did drain the engine power completely."

                I know that most e36s were under-powered heaps of shit, but that doesn't sound quite right. Every time I've had an engine-driven accessory seize, the drive belt has snapped instantly (or burned through, if loose) and the motor kept going as if nothing had happened.

          2. CountCadaver

            Re: Monthly?

            Cabin filter had probably NEVER been changed....my Saab was stuffy...finally found the pollen filter and it must have weighed close to 2kg and was caked in dirt....the new one weighed 10s of grams. Air was so much fresher and freer flowing afterwards....

            1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: Monthly?

              I changed the cabin filter in my car, to avoid paying 2.5x the cost of the genuine part on the service. It was like something dragged out of a sewer and left to fester in the sun. Next time I'll gladly pay someone else to do it...

          3. Someone Else Silver badge

            Re: Monthly?

            This Merc must have been done up tighter than a politician on the witness stand.

            Upvote for the simile.

            ...or is that a metaphor? Never could keep these things straight...

  6. Steve Hersey

    Raise the Jolly Roger!

    Jailbreak the features. No jury of car owners would convict. You paid for the car, you own it.

    I read a novel set in the near future where characters chose old cars because they didn't have surveillance features and hackable crapware. The future has already arrived and wants to take over the spare bedroom...

    1. Stork Silver badge

      Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

      007 in Skyfall, was it?

    2. EVP

      Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

      “ I read a novel set in the near future where characters chose old cars”

      I live in a future where people already do that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

        The modern thing I was lent by the garage recently was so full of techno shit that I think I'd rather walk than own one. Just who the **** needs to have a lighting system in the car which changes colour depending on the spot market price of brussels sprouts and needs 50 pages in the manual to explain?

        I'm a petrol head and a geek but this sort of shit is crazy.

        1. David 132 Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

          Don’t forget the whole “let’s put EVERY vehicle control on a touch screen, which has no tactile feedback whatsoever and is really difficult to prod at accurately without taking your eyes off the road when you’re in motion on any road that isn’t glass-smooth”, which is my personal pet-hate-du-jour (ok, and long-sentence-du-jour, touché)

          Icon… that’s me, that is.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

            Ah, you have a recent VW group car as well?

        2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

          needs 50 pages in the manual to explain?

          You had a manual?! Most cars these days just seem to come with a blog on your phone, if you're lucky.

          1. xyz

            Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

            Bit off topic but the best one i came across was for my snow chains.... They had a big "FOR EMERGENCY USE ONLY* notice stuck on them. Then for fitting instructions..... go to youtube.com/whatever. Wasn't much use when you're up to your chuff in snow, half way down a mountain in a full on blizzard and no mobile signal. 3 days I was stuck there.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

              Chains can be a right pig to fit, it's always best to practice before you go, preferably in a nice dry garage. Even with the instructions you don't want to be figuring it out for the first time in the dark, at -10C and with falling snow. Or just fit winter tyres, even in the UK they help on cold days.

              1. captain veg Silver badge

                Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

                I'd go further.

                Practice in advance by all means, but it won't prepare you for the cold, wet, darkness and dealing with the fact that you beached the car in a snow drift. You will need something to kneel on (flattened cardboard boxes will do), some warm gloves, a powerful torch, ideally one that you can stand up and point hands-free, and a shovel.

                -A.

              2. Sudosu

                Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

                Some of us like a challenge...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

            OK, I say manual

            But what I mean is app on the phone or website or some sort of childish ebook not a usable bit of paper.

            The electronic manual will almost certainly not have any entries for anything you might actually want to know such as what the instruments on the dash panel are telling you. If you can even workout what they might have called the dashboard there may well be hundreds of entries on how you can customize it and even have different settings for different drivers (keys) but they would rather shoot themselves than explain what the dials mean. Speedo and Rev counter should be obvious. It won't have a temperature gauge or oil pressure because that might be useful in stopping the engine dying when its no longer a shiny new toy. So they start to get inventive and secretive.

            There are probably whole sections on how to have the interior colour scheme change according to what some of these gauges are doing.

            1. Trollslayer
              Joke

              Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

              Don't suggest it to them!

        3. Sherrie Ludwig

          Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

          I'm with AC on this - I need five wheels (four on the road and one to steer) and brakes. We buy basic model recent used cars, maintain them scrupulously and keep them forever. We have a 14 year old car (175K miles) and a "new" six year old car (98K miles - it's the one we use for long trips). Last car we sold on was pushing 300K. New shiny doesn't beat having the $$ in the bank to buy the next one cash.

          1. Sudosu

            Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

            My "new" car that I bought in 2019 was made in 2003 and had 380,000kms on it.

            The previous owner poured more than it was worth into it including a new diesel motor that only had 30,000kms on it by the time I got it so it should be good for another 20 years or so.

            It ain't pretty, but neither am I.

            This replaced my 1991 truck that became a bit unreliable after 400,000kms. I bought it in 1998 still have it and plan to fix it up for use at the cabin until it turns to powder.

            My older car was made in 1973 with unknown miles due to a 5 digit speedometer has 500hp and I can rebuild the motor in a weekend if I had to for about a 2-3 months worth of new car payments.

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

      "I read a novel set in the near future where characters chose old cars"

      Mine are all 1970 or earlier (with a couple exceptions). Restoring old cars is FUN! :-)

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

        A neighbor of mine has a ‘71 Camaro with a 350. Yes, fun is the word.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

          Tin worm vs silicon worm. I know which I'd rather repair. <looks for MIG machine>

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

        Handcranked diesels, for when the Indian Nuclear satellite gets shot down by the Americans and the resulting EMP shuts down the entire world telecommunications and electricity grid

    4. Steve Graham

      Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

      In my experience, the programmers who work in the auto business arrogantly assume that they can do "security" and can invent their own half-arsed solutions. Actually, that's programmers almost everywhere, isn't it?

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

        The problem isn't the programmers, it's the wankers in marketing who promise features that don't exist, and then blame the programmers for not having developed them yet.

    5. Plest Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

      "You paid for the car, you own it."

      BMW owners, most of the ones I've met have had their common sense glands removed by the BMW dealer, don't give a toss how much it costs to have that black/blue logo on the front of their four wheeled penile extension. There will be a clause in the contract when you buy a BMW that states you own everything except the software running in the ECU. Oh wait, nothing works on the car with the ECU software, shame, better cough up those £150/month subs you mugs!

    6. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: Raise the Jolly Roger!

      Rush's "Red Barchetta" comes to mind...

  7. JamesTGrant

    Dave at the garage can sort you out

    For a small one off fee…

    1. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Re: Dave at the garage can sort you out

      Exactly I forsee a huge black market for back street garages to get you all the subscription features for a one of fee if the kit is already in their and just waiting for some software download to say its ok to use it.

      New car sold in the EU now have to have speed regulators fitted since earlier this month, so i expect that another thing the dodgy garage will disable for you if you want ;)

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Dave at the garage can sort you out

        My ex brother in law (Essex back street garage) knew how to blow* the chip that held the pin number of any radio that came his way.

        *By blow I don't mean with a EEPROM programmer.

        1. David 132 Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Dave at the garage can sort you out

          > the pin number

          …if you brought him cash from the ATM machine?

          Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dave at the garage can sort you out

        not so fast, you paedo-terrorist! BMW, and their partners, through a host of undisclosed, but highly sophisticated technological solutions, have you in their cross-hair. You think you can remove the gps and hack the rest? Sorry Dave, I can't do that, and Dave, we know who you are and where you are and the police are already on the way, so please don't embarrass yourself and your family and neighbours by trying to run...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dave at the garage can sort you out

        at some point, in not so distant future, a police stop will involve the police plugging their thingy into 'your' car and checking ALL your licences...

        ...

        sorry, not 'police', but the 'outsourced' dodgy biz doing all that. As already happens when you go through airport security, etc.

        1. G2

          Re: Dave at the garage can sort you out

          the police won't have to plug anything... it's all done remotely via radio.

          These days they can already check tachograph systems remotely, including driver cards and work schedules... but the communications protocol is actually designed for all vehicles (V2X) not just tachograph devices.

          https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32016R0799

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Dave at the garage can sort you out

          sorry, not 'police'

          Yes, police. City of London police - with jurisdiction over al lthe UK in such matters

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dave at the garage can sort you out

        My new-ish car was purchased used. The satnav feature on the touchscreen is not enabled. The dealer can use a code to enable it for $1200 (last time I checked).

        I've been looking for a keygen for the code for a while now. The car is old enough to not phone home. I use my phone or tablet for satnav, but it would be nice to have the built-in one working. It would not be $1200 worth of nice however.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Dave at the garage can sort you out

          Then you can pay $$$ for the map update!

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Dave at the garage can sort you out

            I get my maps for free at AAA. Recommended.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Dave at the garage can sort you out

          "The satnav feature on the touchscreen is not enabled. The dealer can use a code to enable it for $1200 (last time I checked)."

          The last satnav I bought cost me a tenner. The mount to chuck it up on the dash was 14 more.

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Dave at the garage can sort you out

      When I read that, for some reason my minds eye started playing the little cut scenes in Elite: Dangerous where you upgrade your power converter, weapons and thrusters.

  8. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Happy

    Are

    the indicators on subscription too? or are they still permanently on 'MOT test detection mode only' still?

    Also I didn't know that the beam setting could be changed on a BMW, I though 'high beam' was it (along with 'rear fog lights all the time' too)

    1. JDPower666 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Are

      Congrats on making the exact same joke as the sub headline

      1. Citizen99

        Re: Are

        I'll offer a variant:- ... handbrakes...

        Drives both me & the Missus mad.

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Are

      Like the Audi TFSI... I believe it stands for This Fucker Seldom Indicates.

  9. Mayday Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    I generally like BMWs

    And usually I’d consider one as my next car, but paying a subscription for stuff I own can GTFO. I buy a car, and that’s it.

    This makes my next purchase decision much simpler - don’t get a BMW.

    1. david 12 Silver badge

      Re: I generally like BMWs

      The only person I know driving a BMW is paying for it monthly anyway. If you are using dealer finance, $ per month looks the same either way.

      1. Mayday Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re: I generally like BMWs

        I'm in Aussie and we have a system called a "novated lease" which can provide a variety of tax advantages when you are after a new car. This is generally how I get cars nowadays. Other jurisdictions may or may not have similar schemes of course.

        I'm not sure how a "feature" could be factored into the lease agreement under the Aussie system, but either way when I select the options on a car, they have their cost next to them, I pay (or the leasing arrangement pays) and I drive off in the thing and all of those features remain in place for the life of the car. No way am I paying some stupid subscription for heated seats or anything else they try to lug me with.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I generally like BMWs

          "No way am I paying some stupid subscription for heated seats or anything else they try to lug me with."

          Erm... you're already paying a 'subscription' for leasing the car, whether they are heated seats or just a couple of orange boxes...

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: I generally like BMWs

      "This makes my next purchase decision much simpler - don’t get a BMW."

      Toyota is also doing this. I rather suspect the other manufacturers will (try to) follow. Now is the time to tell them to fuck off. Let your friends and family know.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I generally like BMWs

        I don't 'rather' suspect the other manufacturers will try to follow. I'm pretty sure they're watching intently and they WILL follow, asap. As usual, this will start with a 'premium' range, and casdade, rather sooner than later, to the rest. And then, it will be trivial to convince some politicians that children! terrorists! etc! and registration of new cars / brands without certain options, will not be possible, say, in a land, let's call it, for the laugh, a United Kingdom of England & Wales. Not that those fine policians on the continent need any more 'convicing'. Next (if not parallel) step will be the subscription model, as in whole car subscription, 'which only makes sense' ;)

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: I generally like BMWs

          "I don't 'rather' suspect the other manufacturers will try to follow. I'm pretty sure they're watching intently and they WILL follow, asap."

          And then we are back to Dave's all night auto mods. Maybe there will be replacement boxes on Alibaba where you send them the the serial and rev number on your black box and your unlocked box arrives a week later in the post. Send them back the one you replace for your deposit back.

          Past a certain point and people are going to drive their dodgy old white van to Belgium to buy a year's worth of smokes and save the money on the taxes.

      2. Julian 8

        Re: I generally like BMWs

        I'll keep my old merc, oh hang on, its pre 2015 and I live in London so going to be taxed for that too

  10. FirstTangoInParis

    Support nightmare?

    Well that’s BMW off my car list. Tbh they already were. But now the back office has to support a feature licensing system for what, 20 years? That’s going to cost more than just adding options at the factory as now, surely?

    And what about when the car gets old and loses its marbles? Old Golf models that open all windows when you unlock the doors comes to mind. Then it’s finger pointing between features and licensing staff as to who’s to blame.

    This is storing much trouble downstream for the sake of more revenue now, imho.

    1. G2
      Trollface

      Re: Support nightmare?

      nope..support is really easy: each year model probably gets a year-specific server / virtual machine instance to keep connected services management at a predictible, uniform stable version and that also allows for easy termination of services when all that year's model vehicles are definitely out of warranty: just shut down the virtual machine.

      They will likely only support it for the warranty period and will shut down the server instance that supports that year's model after all the vehicles of that year are out of warranty (3 or 5 years usually).

      If they really have (literal) hot-seat subscribers for that year's model they will probably keep the virtual machines for that series running a bit longer, to milk the subscription fees, but as soon as the subscriber count drops below a "profitable" number they will announce it's no longer economically viable to provide those services and will terminate all remaining subscribers for that year / version.

      1. Trollslayer
        Devil

        Re: Support nightmare?

        You realise BMW are making notes on all this.

        1. G2

          Re: making notes

          of course... but this is basically the same support model that Samsung / Huawei / HTC / Sony / Lenovo / ASUS / etc... pretty much all connected electronics vendors are using, so it's nothing new.

          Phones, laptops, motherboards, smart TVs, connected vehicles .... you name it, once their initial warranties are expired they become obsolete as far as the manufacturer is concerned and it's no longer their problem.

          Once warranties end for a model / year... they no longer publish any updates at all and after another year or two, when you unbox a "new, old stock" phone (or other smart connected device), you can't even get to install the updates they have already published in the past - this is because they have now nuked the server instance that was tasked with serving updates for that year of launched models.

          In 2015, my less-than-7-months old Moto phone was declared by them to be "no longer supported" despite the fact it was launched in the same year at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (early march 2015).

          Planned obsolescence at its finest.

          I had to root it and managed to install LineageOS on it... it still runs today but is stuck with LineageOS 17.1 (Android 10) latest version is from february 2022, quite a good stretch, for a device launched in 2015 and abandined by its manufacturer during the same year.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: making notes

            You can always trade in your mobile for a second hand model from Backmarket or Giffgaff... a 12mth warranty on hardware, but no guarantee you will ever see an update

    2. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Support nightmare?

      TBF, it was a deliberate feature* the Vdubs based cars had (not just the Golf or even VW), where holding the key against the spring in the unlock position for a couple of seconds would open all the electric windows.

      The actual bug was passenger windows sometimes opening when you locked the car and walked away.

      *90% certain it's in the manual.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Support nightmare?

      Vauxhall have already dropped services from 2015/17.

      Remember the vauxhalls with "wifi" enabled, that got scrapped, so all of them are now "non wifi"

  11. BenDwire Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Know your market

    Given that most BMW's around where I live appear to be driven by kids who earn just enough for each month's car payment, then I can't see them complaining at all. Most people I know under 40 seem to be happy renting everything, so just add this to the never ending list of outgoings. Madness IMHO, but to each, their own.

    As for me, it's an emphatic 'No!'. If I buy something, then I own it*. (Not that I would ever consider buying anything with a premium / fashionable badge on it)

    * No MS software was used to post this message

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As for me, it's an emphatic 'No!'

      that's ok by the biz model, the old die out and the young keep renting, and the WHOLE population falls for this. Not if, but when. Give me a child until he is 19 and I will show you the licence holder, but hey, can't we just speak to a politician or two, to make it '17'? Cause, you know...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: As for me, it's an emphatic 'No!'

        This problem with this is that the rent it "cheap" model is based on a healthy resale value. If the new car customer is renting it from the manufacture than the manufacture ends up owning the risk.

        Second hand buyers are generally much more cost sensitive.

        So with any luck they'll end up shooting themselves in the foot

  12. Natalie Gritpants Jr Silver badge

    No economic sense

    To include hardware and not charge the customer, but hope they subscribe later. DEC and IBM's go faster switch was ok as it didn't cost much and they couldn't make a slower CPU any cheaper, but heated seats and aircon cost.

    1. EVP

      Re: No economic sense

      BMW will introduce an upgradeable go-faster engine next. It’ll be called Wanker.

      1. TimMaher Silver badge
        Gimp

        Re: Wanker

        Made by Bavarian Masturbation Works.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: No economic sense

      Most cars these days are on subscription anyway, not just the options, the whole car. Leasing or PCP is the most popular way to drive a new car, outright purchases of new cars are a small minority.

      So what’s the difference? A variation in the monthly payment based on what options are enabled?

      Currently, you can load up options or go through higher spec versions on PCP because the cost is lost in the monthly payment and the offset of the resale value vs the final settlement value.

      The article doesn’t say if the car buyer will set the options permanently for the term of the deal or if options can be added or removed during the term. If the former then there is no difference to the standard PCP/lease buyer unless they want to pay the final settlement to keep the car (rare occurrence).

      Used buyers are more affected.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No economic sense

      It might make manufacturing cheaper. In the normal case of you buying the features you want the factory need a complicated build management system to keep track of what options to install on which cars. I guess with this scheme they just whack everything into each car and decide later which bits to turn on or off. There will be a cost saving in the manufacturing process and staff training.

      They're probably pre-inflating the base price to cover the cost of the installation of the extra kit and then everything they make from renting the features in pure profit.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: No economic sense

        "It might make manufacturing cheaper. In the normal case of you buying the features you want the factory need a complicated build management system to keep track of what options to install on which cars. "

        They all have complicated build management systems that deal with all sorts of issues including custom option packages. If a vendor notifies them that some option will be out of stock (cheeky, I know), they can tell the system to not add cars in the queue that need those parts until they are available again. Right now some auto makers are building cars that are missing parts that can be installed later with not too much pain. The system keeps track of what's missing on each one of those incomplete cars, where that car is being stored and prioritizes parts assignments when they become available.

    4. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: No economic sense

      > heated seats and aircon cost

      They cost the owner/tenant also. Shifting the additional weight saps fuel, which is rather expensive right now.

      -A.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No economic sense

        That's an interesting point. I wonder whether there is some European environmental or waste legislation which could be used to sue them for making you pay to carry around devices you have no intention of ever renting from them.

  13. Dan 55 Silver badge

    API change

    In about three years time they'll stop working altogether even if you wanted to pay and you'll have to buy a new car if you want heated seats.

    That's how the business model works isn't it?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought this was a joke.

    1) Giant brand faceplant. Luxury brands should never be caught nickel and diming you. They should stick to charging 20x market rate for the accessories, and marking it down to 2.5x at the dealer if you buy at end of month. Your monthly customers will just roll it into their lease/finance agreement anyway.

    2) Probably already illegal in some jurisdictions, but def should be in ALL. Heated seats aren't a service, they are a component. Adding cell service or a satellite radio subscription are different. Navigation software needs updates. Seat heaters are no more rational as a subscription service than the seats are.

    3) this would probably still be brand destroying on a rental car, but is deranged on one that is paid for. Also opens a can of worms in jurisdictions where either the first sale doctrine applies, or on subsequent sales or transfers of ownership.

    In the US, if you parked it on someone else's property they could process a lien of sale on it, which would not require them to allow the new owner to activate any of those services but would also prevent them from stopping you from wiring around them. That would be true even for a leased vehicle, though I don't imaging the leasing company would just let the lien sale slide. The only high end cars I have seen this level of nonsense on were track toys that were essentially on lease and probably not even street legal, on a road car it's a non-starter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I thought this was a joke.

      "Luxury brands should never be caught nickel and diming you."

      Thats fucking hilarious.

      Luxury brands ALWAYS nickel and dime you.

      ( Luxury brands really like taking the piss)

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: I thought this was a joke.

        I always laugh when I see people who think Veblen goods offer value-for-money.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From the same company...

    ... that voids your warranty for not using their screenwash.

    And yet they keep selling Baader Meinhof Wagens by the boatload.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heated seats?

    What?

    Stone the flamin’ crows!

    Australia mate!

    1. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: Heated seats?

      Snowy Mountains: Wikipedia... Even here, in one of the hotter bits, this morning it was 6ºC (Winter). I haven't driven a BMW since the 2002 (1971 model) - I don't intent to start renting bits of one now.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Heated seats?

        UK, many years ago a friend was proud of new car with heated seats % various other extras (back when heated seats were a rarity, might have been a beamer, it was some overpriced "luxury" saloon (spot who is not a car geek)).

        To me, it just felt odd initially & as time passed it just got more strangely uncomfortable, made him switch mine off after a quarter of an hour of the drive he took us on.

        Someone please explain to me the attraction of a heated seat as I just don't get it (if its cold I wear appropriate warm clothing, & my car has cloth seats so they don't really get extremely cold or hot (why does everyone I know with a "luxury" car have odd seat materials that are either freezer or kettle temperature depending on amount of sunshine entering the car)

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Heated seats?

          "Someone please explain to me the attraction of a heated seat"

          Try using one when it's -20C as you get into the car, then you'll understand

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: Heated seats?

          -35C & waiting for the car to warm up (Even after a 10 minute remote start outside the house) while brushing off enough snow for a avalanche* & digging a way to the road, heated seats are a godsend when you actually get to drive.

          *Pun intended - It is actually a Avalanche.

        3. Splurg The Barbarian

          Re: Heated seats?

          I've had heated seats on cars with cloth seats. My parents Volvo they bought in 1982 had cloth seats and heated seats that automatically came on when the temperature dropped below a certain level, I think from 84 or so you had a manual switch. I like them, I also wear appropriate clothing for the weather. The heated seat heats you up inside the freezing cold car without requiring to use the climate control unit to heat the car & once warm switch it off. Using the CCU uses more fuel and takes heat away from the engine meaning it takes longer to get to operating temperature.

          EV cars are recommended.to use heated seats & hheated steering wheel if fitted rather than the heater as it uses less power to run those meaning range won't drop more than necessary.

    2. David 132 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Heated seats?

      Yeah, but you fellas have to pay instead for ‘roo bars, spider-proof window seals, and drop-bear insurance, so don’t get too smug…

  17. Winkypop Silver badge
    Pirate

    Car feature subscription services

    Consumer protection minefield.

    The car makers best tread carefully.

  18. Jay 11

    This is why the value of much older vehicles with limited electronics and vehicles that have less obtrusive electronics are rising in value so quickly.

    Toyota tried this last year but backed down. They were a bit ambiguous over there remote connect service which came to light after someone read the small print.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re. value of much older vehicles with limited electronics

      I don't see any stats to support that. I see stats about older vehicles in general rising in value, but the reasons given are not because people want less electronics, but because covid ate the electronics, etc.

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: re. value of much older vehicles with limited electronics

        I have a mate who lives in France and had a van which was on its last legs. He was about to scrap it, but for some reason he thought he'd pop it on an auction site to see if someone wanted it for parts. Apparently the bidding went mental as it was the last generation of Citroen(?) vans which didn't have all the electronics.

        It turns out that the vans get exported to Africa, repaired and then get used pretty much for ever.

  19. keith_w

    I already don't subscribe to GM's OnStar service. I survived before without heated seats. On the other hand, if they were to offer cooled steering wheels for those really hot days when you can burn your self on the steering wheel, I might be tempted.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Facepalm

      My Av's & (Ex Mrs Oncoming Scorn's Aveo) lost Onstar when CDMA was turned off for it, despite the offer of $500 discounted 3G replacement (Which has also recently been or about to be turned off).

      Used it a grand total of twice (To unlock the cars - Once by my error & Costco's high gas filling station roof blocked most of the signal & when the aforementioned ex managed to outdo her self on her stupidity league table* locked her car with both keys inside, while inside our garage.

    2. Sherrie Ludwig

      if they were to offer cooled steering wheels for those really hot days when you can burn your self on the steering wheel, I might be tempted.

      I have a bit of cloth I toss over the steering wheel when I have to park it in the sun.

  20. David 132 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    What no-one here seems to have picked up on..

    (unless I’ve missed a comment, in which case my apologies)

    …is that this allows BMW to reset the feature/subscription when the car changes hands. *You* might have paid the $400 or whatever for “lifetime” heated seats, but I’m sure the seats will be deactivated as soon as you sell the car. See also the similar recent incident with a Tesla.

    So it’s basically, perpetual revenue for BMW. It’s all aligned with the move in our own beloved IT industry towards <whatever>-as-a-service. Why sell your customer something once, for a one-off payment, when you can milk them for ever more, and for even more, on a monthly basis?

    Grrrrr.

    1. Falmari Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: What no-one here seems to have picked up on..

      @David 132 “So it’s basically, perpetual revenue for BMW. It’s all aligned with the move in our own beloved IT industry towards <whatever>-as-a-service.”

      But without the service part*. It’s not like they are going to upgrade your heated seats each year to the latest version or fix them if they stop working after the car warranty has finished. They are just leasing a bum warmer.

      “Why sell your customer something once, for a one-off payment, when you can milk them for ever more, and for even more, on a monthly basis?”

      Even with a one-off payment the customer is still being charged twice. All these optional extras are already fitted to the car and form part of its manufacturing costs, which the customer ultimately pays in the retail price.

      *There are exceptions like sat nav with map updates.

  21. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    BMW's money to waste

    VW has Car-Net. They put that hardware in all their nice cars only for nobody to buy subscriptions. Many of them quit working with the 3G cellular deactivation, causing absolutely no outcry. I didn't even bother with the free trial while it worked.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: BMW's money to waste

      Carnet. You can buy a book of 10 tickets for heated seat activation... only pay for the days you really need to use it!

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: BMW's money to waste

      "Many of them quit working with the 3G cellular deactivation, causing absolutely no outcry."

      A person I worked with had a vintage BMW with an AMPS factory cell phone. Obviously that didn't work anymore. Ok, maybe it did work but there is no longer a network for it to connect to. Some things aren't good built in features for something that should last a couple of decades.

  22. Where not exists

    Sounds like ransomware by another name.

  23. Totally not a Cylon Silver badge
    Joke

    Third party app store?

    I hope BMW allow third party app stores and payment processing......

    As in "No, I don't want your over priced Carplay, I'll use Audi's instead".......

    After all Epic (and others) think that phones should have third party stores & payment systems and the only difference between a car and a phone nowadays is that the car has wheels and a motor.......

    1. skalamanga

      Re: Third party app store?

      You seem to be implying that Audi's carplay would be cheaper than BMW's

      Good one!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Third party app store?

        Obviously a typo for "Aldi"...

  24. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Holmes

    Louis Rossman

    Had a huge rant about this last night - great fun for all concerned, apart from BMW.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Louis Rossman

      pretty ironic, given that, if I remember, vaguely, he bought into tesla, which has already tested subcription model, haven't they?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least you get brakes for free...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      but for how long?

      Then it will be stepped pricing

      Braking from 10KPH €40 pcm

      Braking from 20KPH €80 pcm

      ...

      only don't expect it to be linear

      1. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch

        Kinetic energy is mv^2/2, so double the speed -> 4x the price.

        How else are we going to pay for these expensive brake pads?

  26. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

    If it comes on the car

    as something I pay for it had better work for the life of the car, or they'll never see me again. Not that BMW has had to worry about me since 1989, when I was driving a new rental with less than 1000kms on it. Drove about 200kms, and the freakin' driver front blinker was gone, as in no longer on the car, large hole where it was. I didn't hit anything either. All I recall was being in the passing lane on the Autobahn running about 190kmh, and I saw a yellow flash between me and the guardrail. No impacts or anyrhing. If that's the best they do at putting them together, PASS.

  27. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "It is possible to pay a fixed, one-time fee to activate a monthly option permanently"

    Yes, it's called buying the car.

    If I buy a car, I expect all of it to work for the price I pay.

    The only thing I am willing to pay for after the purchase of the vehicle is the yearly update of the GPS data.

    And that is final.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: "It is possible to pay a fixed, one-time fee to activate a monthly option permanently"

      Not many people buy new cars these days. It’s all lease or personal lease. The final part is when they chuck the car in at the end of the deal.

    2. Steve 53

      Re: "It is possible to pay a fixed, one-time fee to activate a monthly option permanently"

      Devil's advocate, bear with me....

      I get if they fit heated seats, and you have to carry those around with you then you should be able to use them. That's utter bullshit.

      What's the difference between paying for GPS maps, and updated neural nets for Tesla Autopilot?

      (On Telsa, map updates are free. Autopilot enhancements like lane change are the only real optional extra)

  28. Captain Hogwash
    Unhappy

    You will own nothing...

    and be happy

  29. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Money for nothing

    > subscriptions for features in their cars

    Considering that the average domestic car is only used for one or two hours a day, it seems crazy to pay every month for things that just sit in the garage, doing nothing, for most of the time.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Money for nothing

      Exactly why I don't own a car. I live with in cycling distance to work and a railway station. The rare times when I need a car I just rent one. This saves me thousands every yet.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Money for nothing

        Lucky you. I also live within cycling distance of work and a railway station. In fact, I live within walking distance of both, which is a lot more convenient, not just because I live at the top of a fucking great hill, which I don't really fancy cycling up.

        If I had to get the train regularly, I'd still find it cheaper to use the car (it costs £100+ to get to That London from here by train, for example, which would also involve a change of trains, whilst the fuel to do so, even at today's prices would cost me about £50).

        As it happens, I have a car for things that aren't getting to and from work, or a station. For instance, I have an allotment on the other side of town, which in this weather, needs watering at least every other day. Whilst I could get the bus there and back, it would turn a one hour job into a three hour one every day, and wouldn't be much help in getting buckets of kitchen waste to the compost heap a couple of times a week. Then, let's consider the shopping. Yes, I can buy from local shops* rather than driving to the supermarket and getting six bags of shopping at once, but that is going to cost me about twice as much. Again, public transport isn't much use when you have a car boot full of shopping to transport, is it?

        I'm getting a bit sick of "holier-than-thou" preachy commenters o the internet who seem to think that everyone's circumstances are exactly the same as theirs.

        *To be fair, I do actually do this where it is practical to do so. The local greengrocers are much cheaper and generally better quality than the supermarkets for fruit and veg, for example. However, I'm not going to assume that everyone has a local greengrocer, especially since housing costs mean a lot of people now live quite a distance from town centres and are pretty much forced to drive to the shops.

  30. Potemkine! Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Oh, bugger

    I loved BMW. :doh:

  31. Chz
    WTF?

    I don't really see the problem

    So long as they *are* offering a one-time fee for those inclined, how is it worse than having to order things specced from the factory? It allows the manufacturer to drastically reduce the number of models they have to produce, and it allows the consumer some modicum of choice. They're not taking previously free features and paywalling them - these are things that always had to be paid for in some way. In addition, it's become a rare thing over the years for people to custom order a new car - most now buy something off the lot that meets their requirements. In this way, the dealers don't need to keep so many different equipment variants in stock and so it's more likely you can find the car equipped the way you want on the lot. So it sounds like a good thing, even if it admittedly could be abused.

    For new cars, anyhow. While I think it sounds like a win for those who buy new cars, it sounds like a minefield for user car buyers.

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: I don't really see the problem

      "In addition, it's become a rare thing over the years for people to custom order a new car - most now buy something off the lot that meets their requirements."

      Citation needed - unless you meant buying a used car.

      Driving a new car off the lot is unlikely because of supply chain problems. Last time I bought a new car (2019), I would have faced several months to just get a new Toyota no matter how I would have spec'd it, because of their 'Just In Time' process. The car would be built, painted and trimmed at the factory with whatever components you order, and AFAIK it doesn't really matter (time wise) what factory options you choose as long as they don't run out of components.

      What I've read and heard, delivery times are much longer than before 2020 due to COVID.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I don't really see the problem

        It's a bit of a lottery at the moment. End of last year I asked a dealer about delivery times for a new car (a Škoda). He said 7 months if I placed an order to have a factory-build, but then he called me two days later to say that they'd just had two delivered from the factory, rather to his surprise.

        1. Richard Pennington 1
          Big Brother

          Re: I don't really see the problem

          That sounds like Prague before the walls came down. There are people who reminisce over the old days.

      2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: I don't really see the problem

        My wife ordered a new Ford via Motability. As well as many common options being unavailable, delivery date has moved from April to September and the colour has changed twice because of a shrinking choice. Apparently JIT assembly no longer involves actual resource planning, it's just what's in the parts bin on the day.

        1. Korev Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: I don't really see the problem

          A friend got a car though Motability too, a combination of Brexit and labour shortages in the port (the two are related) meant that the ship sailed between the Continent and the UK a few times with the car, but couldn't unload...

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: I don't really see the problem

            I see you got downvoted there by our resident brexit cult members. How dare you call into question the wisdom of Our Lord Brexit?

      3. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Go

        Re: I don't really see the problem

        The only two times I bought a brand spanking new vehicle, it was literally was from the pick of what was on the forecourt.

        Recent years with Covid have seen forecourts rather bare, though I did pass one dealership that was about half full of new inventory the other day.

    2. Falmari Silver badge

      Re: I don't really see the problem

      @Chz "It allows the manufacturer to drastically reduce the number of models they have to produce"

      No it really doesn't. Adding seat heating £350 for a one off payment to every car in the model range means they have to produce only one seat before they upholster it. But they have added a £350 item to every car in the model range. Over the run of the model there going to be a huge number of cars that will never have the feature activated. All that waste to have 1 instead of base seats.

      Not much of a saving in variants of a car that will come off the line. When there are 12 different upholstery choices, 13 paint choices, 6 engine choices and 5 wheel choices. Follow link bellow.

      https://configure.bmw.co.uk/en_GB/configure/G83/M4AX/FLKSW,P0300,S01CB,S01DF,S01MB,S01U0,S0230,S02PA,S02T4,S02VB,S02VC,S02VF,S0302,S03M5,S03MF,S0428,S0430,S0431,S0459,S0488,S0493,S0494,S04GQ,S04MC,S04NE,S04NH,S04U0,S0534,S0544,S05AC,S05AS,S05AV,S05DA,S05DM,S0610,S0654,S0688,S06AE,S06AF,S06AK,S06C4,S06NW,S06U3,S06UX,S06WD,S0712,S0760,S0775,S07M9,S0812,S0850,S0853,S0880,S08KA,S08R9,S08S2,S08S3,S08SM,S08TF,S08TG,S08WL?expanded=true

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: I don't really see the problem

        But £350 is the price for heated seats, not the cost. It probably costs about £30 at the factory.

        1. Falmari Silver badge

          Re: I don't really see the problem

          Maybe it does only cost BMW £30. But over the a model run say maybe 5 years how many heating units will have been fitted that were never wanted or used. How much waste is that?

          How much mark up will have been added to that £30 item that every owner will pay even if they never activate it?

          1. Chz

            Re: I don't really see the problem

            If it were a Kia Picanto, you'd have a point. But the sticker price of a BMW is, at best, only very loosely tied to the actual cost of manufacturing.

          2. ChrisC Silver badge

            Re: I don't really see the problem

            This sort of thing (fitting parts that aren't ever used) ALREADY occurs in the car industry - chances are most cars built in the last decade or so will have at least one extra bit of hardware fitted which serves no purpose for the given spec level of that particular car.

            Even if it's just a single extra wire in a wiring loom that, on the highest spec level version of tha car, enables a feature that isn't present on any of the lower spec models, that's still a waste of materials. But manufacturers will do it, and take the hit on the additional cost of including that extra wire in every loom they fit, because overall it works out better for them to only need to source/stock one version of the loom - if you're buying a million looms all of the same spec with one extra wire, chances are the additional material cost will pale into insignificance compared with the additional tooling costs of getting your loom provider to build you 999,000 versions of the standard loom and then 1000 versions with just that one extra wire added.

            Car manufacturers aren't stupid, they'll know exactly how much it'll cost them to include a part in every car they build vs the cost of including it only in those cars where the buyer has specced it. And if they calculate that it's cheaper to just chuck that part into every car, even if 99% of the time it's never then used, then so be it. If, as BMW are now proposing, they can potentially then earn even more profit by allowing anyone (not just the original buyer) who owns that car in future to opt into having that part enabled for use just with a simple tap of a button, then even more reason to standardise on the hardware build spec and use soft-switches to control what the actual spec is at any given instant within the lifespan of that car.

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: I don't really see the problem

              Saves having to run two stock lines for car seats, I suppose.

            2. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

              Re: I don't really see the problem

              I once owned a Granada Mk 2 2.3L. No rev counter, just a clock. Picked up a GL instrument cluster in a scrappy, and thought it would plug straight in. Found that the wire to the multiplug for the cluster lacked the ignition signal. The L model had a different loom to the GL!

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: I don't really see the problem

                "Found that the wire to the multiplug for the cluster lacked the ignition signal. The L model had a different loom to the GL!"

                That can happen. Weber University acquired a Chevy Bolt without the DC fast charging option and hoped to source the components only to find out that there are a bunch of differences between the two options. I haven't checked their YouTube channel in ages so I'm not sure if they ever sorted that out or just picked up one with the fast charging. The cars are part of their automotive education program so they put them together and take them apart a bunch more than drive them.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the future is here

    no matter how much we fume. Remember that 'cloud' thing we mocked? This shitty idea of 'facebook'? Howe we laughed that people could never, ever, EVER be so stupid as to sell their privacy for FREE? Be paraded naked and fingerprinted when taking a long-distance flight? Voice-recognized and tracked in their own homes, of their own will? All those absurd ideas, laughable, really!

  33. Filippo Silver badge

    Fine, but make it clear that hacking these features is legal. It's your car, it's not leased or whatever.

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Pint

      No, what you have bought is a licence to use the car for a limited period, subject to the manufacturer’s terms and conditions which can be changed at any time without prior notice and which you agreed to when you opened the car door.

      *Your* car? What a quaint idea. Like trafficators, floor-mounted headlight switches or hand-cranked engine starting.

      Icon: have a beer. At least we’re all used to only renting that.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        If *that* were the case then you wouldn't be able to sell the car on in the second-hand market. Since leasing actually exists as a genuine car-ownership model, I'd be surprised if a court found that "purchase" was just a vastly more expensive way of achieving the same thing.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Icon: have a beer. At least we’re all used to only renting that."

        Don't I wish. As time goes on I seem to be adding storage for that goodness.

  34. thondwe

    Weight and Waste?

    So I get a car with a bunch of features built in that I don't want - but that's a waste of resources to build and install and it's extra weight the car is dragging around?

    I can see an augment for subscription for updating the software for functional improvements - but not for fixes and certainly not for enabling hardware.

    1. ChrisC Silver badge

      Re: Weight and Waste?

      "So I get a car with a bunch of features built in that I don't want - but that's a waste of resources to build and install and it's extra weight the car is dragging around?"

      Chances are you're already driving a car like that, only without the ability to then easily enable the extra features if you later think they might actually be of use to you...

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Weight and Waste?

        My car has the loom for cruise, the software for cruise, and being DBW no extra bits required.

        To enable it required the puchase of two switches.

        The loom as other people would say, no problem cheaper to have fitted.

        At least it was fit switches get cruise.

        It does have active suspension, now the bits for that are different, ECU, pump and pipes not fitted to other models, but I suspect the loom is.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Weight and Waste?

          "My car has the loom for cruise, the software for cruise, and being DBW no extra bits required.

          To enable it required the puchase of two switches."

          I needed to replace a switch on my steering wheel and found a set that included the stereo controls I lacked, but no joy. Only the CC switches worked as they did before.

    2. Justthefacts Silver badge

      Re: Weight and Waste?

      Not necessarily. It depends. I’m not an expert on seat heaters, but it’s entirely possible that engineering the seat to have access to allow selecting seat heater or not late in production, increases the weight more than just hardwiring it. Or not. Depends what the component manufacturer does.

      One thing I *do* know: the total wiring harness on a modern car typically weighs an astonishing 100-150kg. It’s one of the heaviest items in the car. There are literally hundreds of sensors and motors to wire up. And they certainly aren’t putting in the wires individually depending on which options are fitted. They make a completely standard harness as a component, and install that.

      I think you need detailed engineering data to say that the one-size-fits-all design is heavier than the custom-installed design. Only the manufacturer has that.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Weight and Waste?

        "I think you need detailed engineering data to say that the one-size-fits-all design is heavier than the custom-installed design. Only the manufacturer has that."

        Nah. A true custom harness is always lighter. Sometimes by well over 50%, even though it runs pretty much the same components (and sometimes more). Ask any hotrodder. Standard factory harnesses are notoriously far too heavy for the job.

        And yes, they almost all contain many wires that don't do anything.

  35. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge
    Big Brother

    That's a nice Beemer you've got there

    ... it would be such a shame, if a subscription price-hike would happen to it.

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: That's a nice Beemer you've got there

      Minor point of order: after years of referring to the cars as Beemers, I learned quite recently that among aficionados of the brand, that nickname is reserved for BMW bikes. The cars are, apparently, “bimmers”.

      Not sure if I personally care enough to respect the distinction, but there you are.

  36. Teejay

    More subscriptions

    After Creative Cloud, Microsoft 365, Netflix, Disney, Amazon, Spotify, Ring, here comes the next subscription service for the many.

    I applaud Apple for so far having kept Logic and Final Cut one-time payments.

    BTW, what happens when a car company detects meddling? Could they disable all non-safety relevant subscriptions that where added after purchase?

    Brave New World. Then again, with everything increasingly deemed luxury by inflation and 'save the planet' (looking at you, artificially created food sparsity, energy sparsity and can-I-even-afford-a-child crises), this all feels unimportant and mostly aimed at the new mandarin classes - to which of course, that's the trick, we almost could belong, forever.

    1. ChrisC Silver badge

      Re: More subscriptions

      "Brave New World."

      Or even Brave Modern World, if you want to keep the BMW theme going...

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: More subscriptions

        BuMWarmer.

  37. Ball boy

    Whatever next?

    I can see it coming: that 2022 sports car you bought that did 0-60mph in 5 seconds....next year it'll takes 6.7 seconds and the following year 7.8 seconds. Seems to occasionally not start first time, either.

    There'll be nothing mechanical wrong with it. It'll just be the manufactures slowing down the hardware. At the same time, the service department will be informed you're becoming a prime target to be leased their latest model.

    You can argue with me - but I'm sure I recall another consumer product that, after purchase, was deliberately slowed down by the manufacturer.

  38. Fr. Ted Crilly Bronze badge

    Oh yeah...

    Well they can fuck right off then, watch the money walk away...

  39. SuperGeek

    Hold up....

    Is this a VERY late April Fools joke, or has Apple secretly bought BMW?

    I guess top brass at BMW really are Billionaire Moronic W*nkers!

  40. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    if BMW ever do a deal with Martin Baker...

    Make sure you are up to date with your subs.

  41. Naich

    A lawsuit in the making?

    Is deliberately disabling a safety feature in a car not grounds for a lawsuit if it causes a subsequent crash?

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: A lawsuit in the making?

      Enabling it it in the first place seems to be a problem for Tesla.

  42. dajames Silver badge

    SatNav Updates

    £80 a year to update the SatNav?

    For 50% more you can buy an entry-level TomTom that comes with FREE map updates for LIFE. If TomTom can absorb the cost of that in a £120 device I'm damn sure BMW could in a car costing several hundred times as much ... if they wanted to.

    One advantage of the TomTom is that you can take in on holiday and use it in the hire car.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: SatNav Updates

      My phone does that for free. What's the point of paying for SatNav, third-party or otherwise?

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: SatNav Updates

        "My phone does that for free. What's the point of paying for SatNav, third-party or otherwise?"

        I like having a 7" screen on the SatNav but don't want a phone that large. I also don't want to leave cell data on or send information to heaven knows who about my travel. I can dump the history in my SatNav when I want and it doesn't blank out when those nice people call to let me know my car warranty is about to expire.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: SatNav Updates

      "For 50% more you can buy an entry-level TomTom that comes with FREE map updates for LIFE."

      Check their definition of "life". For Magellan it's 3 years or a bit more if they feel like it. I find second hand Garmin units with lifetime maps and so far they always take updates.

  43. TimMaher Silver badge
    Windows

    I remember...

    Some time ago, could be years back, when there was quite a large debate, amongst El Reg commentards, about 365 and the cloud and “anything as a service”.

    Many of the commentards evoked the motor industry as “the good guys” but where this could happen next.

    They thought they were joking.

  44. Richard Crossley

    Peak Car

    The World had Peak Car in the late 1990s, early 2000s. Everything worked, and they didn't turn to rust overnight.

    Since about 2005, they have just tried to invade your wallet and nanny the fun away whilst making themselves more susceptible to theft, Keyless Entry, what a gift.

  45. 45RPM Silver badge

    Thanks for the consumer advice. Make mine a Volvo. Although when Volvo start fitting hardware to the car and charging customers to use it* then make mine an old Volvo, built before these consumer unfriendly practices became commonplace.

    * I’ll exempt those functions for which payment for a third party license is necessary - like Apple CarPlay for example - since that is outside the manufacturers hands and, if you have an Android phone, why should it be mandatory to pay for that license? Such caveats clearly don’t apply to the heated seats however.

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Upvoted.

      However, my own beloved Volvo is currently en panne, having suddenly and mysteriously and without any warning whatsoever lost all its oil at 60mph on the highway. If the garage ever get back to me with a diagnosis - or post-mortem, I suspect - I will be facing such a large bill that I could cosplay as a pelican :(

      1. 45RPM Silver badge

        Yeah - that happened to me when an incorrectly fitted sump drain plug fell out. My beloved didn’t notice the increasingly urgent warning lights from the car telling her to stop right away - and merrily motored all the way home (a distance of 70 miles)

        Astonishingly, the cost was a new drain plug and a refill of all. 100k miles later it’s still running sweetly.

        I can only assume that because the car was moving when the disaster occurred all the oil was circulating up in the engine so enough was available to keep it running.

        1. jake Silver badge

          "I can only assume that because the car was moving when the disaster occurred all the oil was circulating up in the engine so enough was available to keep it running."

          That's not how it works. The oil pump pulls from the sump to circulate through the engine. The oil then drains back into the sump (gravity), to be picked up by the pump again. Said pump supplies pressurized oil to the bearings continuously ... unless the oil has all drained out.

          Long story short: You got very, very lucky. Don't do it again.

    2. Splurg The Barbarian

      As new Volvos come with Google Assistant and other Google software installed as standard I wouldn't be touching one with a 10 ft barge pole.

      1. 45RPM Silver badge

        Why? If you don’t sign in then surely there’s no problem?

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "As new Volvos come with Google Assistant and other Google software installed as standard I wouldn't be touching one with a 10 ft barge pole."

        If any of that sort of thing is included in a car, that's an instant walk away for me.

  46. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
    Holmes

    In some markets...

    This approach makes sense.

    Test equipment (and I am not talking about cheap multimeters) can be very expensive. I specified a new oscilloscope about 10 years ago capable of measuring signals up to 12 GHz and the price (with $KeyAccount discount) was about £120K - the probes alone were over £20K.

    Not everyone needs all the features that the hardware supports so some of the more esoteric features are not enabled - you need to buy a licence (or in some cases a small card that fits in a slot) to get those features.

    For older kit, there would be empty slots within the chassis that you could populate to get added features.

    The hardware in many high end test instruments is capable of a great deal but if you don't need those features you don't pay for them although the option to enable them is usually available.

    I can buy an oscilloscope good to 200MHz for less than £200 but if I need a certified device (full calibration records) as I do in a great deal of my work that just won't cut it.

    Lab grade precision multimeters can set you back over £10K.

    Test equipment (particularly high end oscilloscopes) are hardly mass produced items so it makes sense for the manufacturers to have a couple of base designs where features are turned on and off with a licence key.

    For this market, such a scheme makes sense. Cars not so much.

    1. Fifth Horseman

      Re: In some markets...

      This is true across the board for oscilloscopes these days. I have a cheap(ish) Rigol and a mid-range Rohde & Schwarz - both of these left the factory "fully loaded" but have specific functions - and bandwidth - governed by software license. Tektronix and Keysight scopes are the same, I believe.

  47. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
    Coat

    Car DLC

    I see the boss of EA works for BMW now!

  48. MJI Silver badge

    If it is part of the car I will have it working.

    If there are seat elements and a wiring loom I would insist in the seats working.

    I have already bought the bits so not paying more to use it.

    I have added features before.

    With DBW cars cruise is often an extra which can be added for the price of the switches. Done it with last two cars, one was switch and a friend set a flag in the ECU, the latest was cut hole in steering wheel for a switch and put other switch into the blanks hole.

    Fair enough I had to buy switches.

    But if it is hardware already fitted but disabled they can fuck right off, even on SH market, unless we can set it with an external device.

  49. JT_3K

    And what of the 3rd owner, or the car sold by a non-BMW-franchise? Being the target and a (diminishing) brand fan it's been harder and harder to support some of the idiotic decisions as the marketing and finance functions began to run roughshod over the engineers of old. Coming out after the E39 5-Series (to 2002) or E46 3-Series (to ~2006) has seen a decline in engineer-based decisions and an uptick in choices to make more money with no care on the end-result.

    It started when the service life intervals were pushed out (without changing the components or fluids) which allowed them to look better in fleet pricing and simultaneously meant the cars were less likely to be as viable in old age, pushing consumers to the new cars. Then there was the reduction in quality of components, plastics getting cheaper and more questionable decisions being made such as the inclusion of plastic-impellor water pumps, low quality timing chain guides and that ghastly N57 4-cyl engine. The company that once screamed adverts exclaiming why they "don't make front wheel drives" changed their new performance small car to FWD and tried to pretend they'd never said anything.

    For me, I've had two F11 (2009-2017) 5-Series. The first was a low spec purchased used from a dealer, who helped me navigate registration of the ConnectedDrive functions that allowed me to use the concierge, track the location, lock/unlock via app and enable the auxiliary heating (defrost without starting the car, by app or on timer). The latter being a godsend in allowing the car to be scheduled to be defrosted as you leave on a winter morning. The second was a high-spec, 1yr newer, purchased privately for which no amount of calls, emails or wrangling would get these functions enabled, making it clear I was unable to do so despite the car having been capable and it being connected to my account.

    I'm reminded of the Playstation store and PS3. Sony have shut down the servers/services and as such the functions once possible are now no longer possible. Progress. Just don't look at the potential e-waste, continuous push back towards the dealership and devaluation of used cars sold by anyone but them, or over three years or so old.

    I've had nothing but BMWs for 14yrs, 6 of them. I brought my daughter home from the hospital in one, took my wife on our first date and honeymoon in one and turned down the dieselgate lawsuit as I felt it unethical as I bought another after I knew. I was at the pre-press launch of the new M2 and the first time I ever went on a track, doing 160mph and learning to drift was in one.

    It'll be a cold day in hell before I buy another new one.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Coat

      Just Asking

      Do mint condition indicators impact the resale price?

      1. JT_3K

        Re: Just Asking

        In 2008, Dave (the TV channel) commissioned research to find the top 10 oldest jokes in humanity, tracing back to 1900BC. The article with Reuters is here - https://www.reuters.com/article/us-joke-odd-idUSKUA14785120080801

        You may want to contact them as I think this may be information they hadn't considered as-yet.

  50. GlenP Silver badge

    Nothing New...

    Many years ago I bought a Suzuki bike that, according to the spec, didn't have a brake light switch for the front brake, only the rear, you had to buy a higher model for that. Fair enough, except that the switch was present, the wiring was present, they just hadn't plugged the latter into the former! A five minute "improvement" at zero cost.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Nothing New...

      Go to red alert!

      Are you sure, sir? It will mean changing the light bulb...

  51. Alan Bourke

    BMW drivers can now not only be twats

    but saps as well.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: BMW drivers can now not only be twats

      Well they do see themselves as Homo Superior, but that's the people of tomorrow for you.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Would you rent a car from these crooks

    The slippery slope to renting everything - all soon to be controlled by Android - so it can't go wrong and it will last forever. Oh and it will spy on everything you say or do for the the thought police so you can't say anything non PC. It will also switch off completely if you are anywhere near any important politician or oligarch who wants the road to himself

  53. DJ
    Meh

    Welcome to the automotive future

    You don't really think this will stop with BMW, do you?

    This is the type of thing that makes one glad to be older.

    (Sorry, Millennials, but you are well and truly stuffed.)

  54. bazza Silver badge

    All this will do...

    ... Is encourage the build and sale of thir party solutions to bypass the blocks. Pretty sure I can buy a switch for about 5p...

  55. bazza Silver badge

    Depreciation...

    ... Is going to be steep.

  56. This post has been deleted by its author

  57. Splurg The Barbarian

    This can GTF!. BMW (quite why anyone in a RHD counntry would is beyond me. Built for LHD with pedals and steering wheel badly ofset in RHD cars) or any other manufacturer can do one. If I buy a car ( however I do it financed or not) it is mine.I buy it, I own it end of story. If they can switch it on, they can switch it on.

    So modern cars can/currently do

    Report current location back to manufacturer

    Report speed back to manufacturer

    Report all current interactions back to manufacturer

    Report when doors open & close

    Report location to other cars

    Allow user to link to manufactuer to send a signal to car to lock/unlock

    Installed with Google Assistant/Amazon Alexa

    Have service appointments booked automatically because it detects a "fault"

    Nag users to create profiles for using the cars so that manufacturers can collect "personaliised" profiles on their customers. Saves a fortune compared to paying wages for testers.

    Amongst many other things and now.....

    Enable and disable hardware/features remotely & use a "subscription" model to access this

    No, just no. How many of you who have bought a new car in the lalst 4/5 years have been asked for your consent to any of this data transfer? Contravenes GDPR.

    Thats the other reason they have been pushing all this "connected" car nonsence. Get people to have it, relent to it and accept it so they can get the data and then start using it to leverage "extra value" from their customers.

    Doesn't help that all cars in the EU (and UK is taking ot on too) must have an embbedded SIM so the car cannot be disconnected physically from the mothership. Currently have on order w car from another manufacturer for last 10 months that a condition of the sale is all telemetry is disabled. I have a funny feeling it will be rejected when it arrives as I believe dealership have promised something that cannot be done.

    Why can I not buy a car that is new, that is disconnected, can have a touchscreen but has physical buttons so I know I can switch stuff on/off with out looking, no OTA so that features don't/can't be changed from what I bought, stuff can't be added to it, no data taken off and everything fitted to a car works without have to pay extra for it until the manufacturer does a UbiSoft and disables the servers rendering it unusable.

    Unless there is a backlash and it huts them in the pocket then they will all push on. I doubt it though as none of the rest of things the car manufacturers have done has upset the masses

  58. Auntie Dix Bronze badge
    Thumb Up

    Make It an URGENT Subscription

    BMW restrooms provide employees toilet services only by subscription:

    - Lid Unlocking

    - Retraction of Seat's Tire Spikes

    - Heated Seat

    - Flush. One per visit or three (via the "Premium Unlimited Plan")

    - Heated Bidet-Hose Spray. Tap or Evian (via the "Premium Unlimited Plan")

    - Fart Fan. Low or High (via the "Premium Unlimited Plan")

    - Toilet Paper by the Square. Five per visit or fifty (via the "Premium Unlimited Plan")

    - Door Closure. Lock (via the "Premium Unlimited Plan")

    - Seat-Ejection Timeout. Two minutes or ten (via the "Premium Unlimited Plan")

    Subscriptions are OPTIONAL. Employees retain the right to "hold it in."

  59. 080

    Why?

    Why would you pay $25 a month to make your backside sweaty?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      "Why would you pay $25 a month to make your backside sweaty?"

      I wouldn't. Fortunately heated seats have temperature controls, so me arse just stays warm, no sweating involved. Handy things to have when plowing snow at oh-dark-thirty in January, sitting on a cabless Farmall M at 6500 feet in Nevada. Amazing how much body heat you can lose sitting on an unheated, uninsulated tractor seat. The new alternator supplying the necessary juice was well worth the price of admission.

      Probably also kinda handy for folks who live in climes where it's 40 below [0] many mornings in the winter, and rarely rises above freezing all day for months on end.

      [0] C or F, pick one, I don't care, I can work with either.

  60. ps2os2

    Now, all BMW (and most car manufacturers have to do is to produce a car that will be able to charge for these "add-ons"

  61. gnasher729 Silver badge

    I have seen one situation where this makes sense: IBM selling servers with say 2, 4, 6, or 8 cores; you pay for what you need today, and if your business grows and you’d need an upgrade, you just pay for activating two more cores.

    The alternative for the customer would be to find someone willing to buy a used 2 core server, buying a new 4 core server, and transferring everything over - substantially more expensive. So the guys insisting “I was given a server with 8 servers, I can activate the remaining six without paying” can be told “if you insist, then we stop selling that way, and everyone loses”.

    Now let’s say BMW charged £500 for heated seats. And it costs £100 to put in a deactivated heated seat. (You think they are ripping you off? Tough to be you then). That means I can turn the heated seats on in my new BMW for £500, same cost as before. BMW saves money by needing to build only one model. And without the heating built in, changing your mind would cost significantly more or be impossible.

    So overall this could be beneficial for the customer. Especially if you didn’t want the heating, and 3 years later you want to sell your used car to someone who insists on heated seats. No problem.

  62. Funongable

    Have we yet reached peak capitalism?

    It appears as though an auto is no longer a one time purchase, but a "portal" to your wallet for manufacturers.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bonus benefits

    For that subscription price you can purchase enough beans to have a can a day - that will warm the seat of whichever vehicle you get in - and more!

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