Subscription fees by automakers have sparked outrage among many people as they argue that customers have already paid for the hardware while purchasing the vehicles.
German automaker Mercedes is set to charge $1200 annually from its customers in the U.S. to unlock faster acceleration with its upcoming “Acceleration Increase” add-on. The subscription does not have any hardware upgrade but it unlocks features that the cars already have.
By paying $1200 (about Rs 98,000), owners of Mercedes-EQ EQE and Mercedes-EQ EQS electric cars will see enhanced performance and noticeable improvement in the acceleration of 0.8 to 1.0 seconds. Additionally, the company also claims the feature electronically increases the output of the car’s motor and the torque. However, it is still unclear when the feature will go live.
“Fine tuning of the electric motors increases the maximum motor output (kW) of your Mercedes-EQ by 20 to 24%, depending on the original output from factory. The torque is also increased, enabling your vehicle to accelerate noticeably faster and more powerfully,” Mercedes mentioned on its website. “This shortens the time it takes to accelerate from 0 to 60 MPH by around 0.8 to 0.9 seconds. This additional output is available in all DYNAMIC SELECT drive programs,” it added.
The subscription will let “a Mercedes-EQ 350 SUV to accelerate from 0-60mph in about 5.2 seconds, as opposed to 6.2 seconds without the subscription,” BBC stated.
Amid slower auto sales in the United States in recent quarters and with the view to keep a continuous revenue flow, automakers like Mercedes, BMW, and some others are pivoting to locking certain features behind a paywall. Earlier this year, BMW announced it will charge an $18 monthly subscription to unlock the already installed heated seats in some countries. The carmaker had previously tried charging customers $80 annually to unlock Apple CarPlay, which is included for free by some other automakers.
Toyota has also previously announced to charge $8 a month for some drivers to remotely start their cars using a key fob. Along the same line, Tesla also has a one-time fee of $2,000 that allows its Model 3 cars to accelerate from 0-60mph half a second faster.
These subscription models by automakers have sparked outrage among many people as they argue that customers have already paid for the hardware while purchasing the vehicles and hence any feature relating to it. Unlike other subscription-based services like OTT platforms that charge for the creation and addition of content, automakers are charging for unlocking the full potential of the already installed hardware. These companies have already earned their profit margin after their vehicle is sold.
Following the BMW outrage, a bill was proposed by New Jersey lawmakers to ban automobile companies from charging subscription fees for built-in car features. Although the bill has not yet been passed, it is evident that outrageousness among people has pushed lawmakers to even think of such a crackdown.