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      07-14-2022, 09:36 AM   #1
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BMW USA Talks Function on Demand Subscriptions (i.e. Heated Seats) - Updated

Official Press Release Statement by BMW NA:

Statement of Clarification Regarding BMW Functions on Demand in the U.S. Market.

In response to recent media reports, BMW of North America would like to clarify how BMW’s Functions on Demand strategy will be implemented in the U.S. market.

Woodcliff Lake, NJ – July 14, 2022… As premium vehicle purchasers, BMW customers in the USA demand a high level of equipment in their vehicles. Options like heated seats are ordered on over 90% of the BMWs sold in the USA. If a vehicle is initially ordered with heated seats, that option will remain fully operational for the life of the vehicle. BMW of North America does not expect factory option purchase levels to change significantly going forward.

BMW Functions on Demand on the other hand is designed to offer premium features through software upload that use data and sensors from factory option hardware already built into BMW vehicles. As an example, some BMW models equipped with certain specific options from the factory can currently add the first two Functions on Demand features available in the US – namely a dash cam function called BMW Drive Recorder and BMW Remote Engine Start function—through a software download in a customer’s vehicle. The BMW Drive Recorder feature uses the cameras needed for advanced driver assist systems for dash cam functionality. This gives customers the possibility of adding new software based functionality and a degree of flexibility in that they will be able to test, and then decide whether or not to purchase a vehicle feature that was not initially available at the time of the original vehicle purchase.

With BMW Functions on Demand, customers will be able to explore new software-based features on a short-term basis by purchasing a trial, or buying that feature outright for a period of time or for the life of the vehicle. It is important to note that BMW Functions on Demand is intended primarily as a digital aftersales solution and will not affect options that were ordered at the time of the vehicle purchase.

Please note that BMW Functions on Demand and the possibility to test or purchase select options after the point of purchase is part of a global aftersales strategy that BMW has introduced in various markets around the world, including on a small-scale basis in the U.S. The features that are available in this digital aftersales online store will vary from market-to-market. Customers can browse available features in their local ConnectedDrive store online.


BMW USA has now made official statements on the controversial subscriptions for certain Function on Demand features (i.e. heated seat subscription in Korea).
Just to be 100% clear: Drivers in the US do NOT have to pay a subscription for heated seats or for any other options ordered at time of purchase.

BMW Functions on Demand is a program that DOES offer premium options, like BMW Drive Recorder and Remote Engine Start, via software updates. Based on vehicle compatibility, customers can purchase a trial of these features, then decide if they want to purchase a feature outright.

BMW Function on Demand features will vary from market-to-market. You can browse available features for the US in the ConnectedDrive store at MyBMW.com or on the My BMW App.

For the people in the back: If a BMW is ordered with heated seats, this will not go away, nor do we have any plans to introduce a monthly charge for this option.

Statements via BMWUSA Twitter: https://twitter.com/BMWUSA/status/15...QvQZ9uMi2eFYKw

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      07-14-2022, 11:22 AM   #2
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BMWNA is not stupid. They know that they would absolutely have a riot on their hands from both their dealers and their customers in the United States if they started putting subscriptions on basic stuff like seat heaters…
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      07-14-2022, 11:23 AM   #3
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All BMWNA is saying is that if you buy a feature, you won't have to pay for it a second time. But implicit in those statements is that if you didn't buy the feature, and it is built into the car, you can then pay for it with a subscription (potentially).

I think it is a bit smarmy for BMW to phrase it the way it did leading many to think BMW won't do it in the US.

On the other hand, if they really do simply build WHAT WOULD OTHERWISE BE AN OPTION into the car, then I have no problem with being able to pay for it later as a subscription. I think that is fair. But if they start taking what would otherwise be standard and charging for it, without reducing the price, then it is simply a rip off.
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      07-14-2022, 11:28 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveinArizona View Post
All BMWNA is saying is that if you buy a feature, you won't have to pay for it a second time. But implicit in those statements is that if you didn't buy the feature, and it is built into the car, you can then pay for it with a subscription (potentially).

I think it is a bit smarmy for BMW to phrase it the way it did leading many to think BMW won't do it in the US.

On the other hand, if they really do simply build WHAT WOULD OTHERWISE BE AN OPTION into the car, then I have no problem with being able to pay for it later as a subscription. I think that is fair. But if they start taking what would otherwise be standard and charging for it, without reducing the price, then it is simply a rip off.
That's not how I read it. My understanding for the NA market was if you buy a car with an option there are no subscription fees. If the car isn't purchased with an option, you can purchase a trial (so long as it can be activated via software) of a feature and if you like it you can then buy it outright, without a subscription.
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      07-14-2022, 12:08 PM   #5
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But BMW UK confirms heated seats as subscription model.

I think we need to riot and stamp this out pronto.
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      07-14-2022, 12:10 PM   #6
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Damage is already done from PR perspective.
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      07-14-2022, 12:13 PM   #7
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They tried this shit with CarPlay and it backfired on them and they then had to walk it all back.

Will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few months. So far lots of bad press from many outlets and not just auto related sites but also tech related sites.
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      07-14-2022, 12:13 PM   #8
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I have had so many non car people message me about this over the last few days. It was a massive pr hit to bmw. It's the kind of thing that would stop potentially new to bmw owners to consider the brand. I'm not really talking about m buyers or fans, but just regular people buying an x3 or 3 series…you know where most of their sales are coming from.

They need to publicly walk this back. Unfortunately, that news story wouldn't get anywhere near the same press.

Someone at bmw needs to be fired
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      07-14-2022, 12:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tag View Post

That's not how I read it. My understanding for the NA market was if you buy a car with an option there are no subscription fees. If the car isn't purchased with an option, you can purchase a trial (so long as it can be activated via software) of a feature and if you like it you can then buy it outright, without a subscription.
That is how I read it too. For things like the drive recorder and remote engine start, if you don't order it with the car you can try it out and if you like it, you can buy it outright to have it permanently. I play with the online configurator a lot and noticed you can pay $100 for the drive recorder at the time of purchase or you can opt not to have it and add it later if you wish. My mom has an X3 M40i and when I built her car for her, we chose not to include the drive recorder but when I log into her account on the Connected Drive store there's the option to try it out for free for a month and then there's the option to purchase it outright. Same thing (sorta) with traffic camera information. You can try it free for a month and if you like it you can pay $25 to have it for a year (used to be 15 months). Remote engine start doesn't seem to have an option to try it out though..it's all or nothing and I noticed the price went up $10 to $330. I also noticed that it's cheaper to add options at the time of build than it is to add them later. For example, remote engine start is $300 if you include it in at time of purchase; $330 if you add it later.
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      07-14-2022, 12:18 PM   #10
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I would think you could easily bypass this with a little wiring or reprogramming.
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      07-14-2022, 12:18 PM   #11
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I think this will be a thing in the future. Simplify all the builds to include all electronic options and be able to remotely enable or disable them with a subscription. Do we complain about Satellite Radio ….
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      07-14-2022, 12:20 PM   #12
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First, as someone who works on NA marketing, the tone in that release is so off. I don't like to be talked down to. I literally write ad copy for them and I'd never phrase it like this. I digress.

Why are we all up in arms BMW? Maybe because you've already tried to do this in the US market with CarPlay? The only reason they've addressed this is because blogs have picked it up and made everyone notice.

But It's actually easier for them to build every BMW with heated seats (as an example), then turn the option on for a monthly fee. It makes total financial sense to do it this way, especially as cars become more and more like mobile computers with batteries. Pay to unlock more power, turn on heated seats, Safety features, etc. Phones work this way already.

Still, combined with a 4K price increase on some models, this feels like a severe cash grab at the wrong time.
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      07-14-2022, 12:20 PM   #13
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I heard Volkswagen is also looking into subscriptions for basic things like air conditioning. Honestly, if this is the route VW and other manufacturers like BMW are going to go I'm sure there will be a manufacturer that doesn't choose to go in this direction to capture all of the customers VW and BMW will piss off.
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      07-14-2022, 12:25 PM   #14
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So lame BMW, include the feature as standard.
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      07-14-2022, 12:32 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FLOSS M View Post
I think this will be a thing in the future. Simplify all the builds to include all electronic options and be able to remotely enable or disable them with a subscription. Do we complain about Satellite Radio ….
Satellite radio is a service, but something like heated seats is not and should never be made into a subscription. They're looking for a way to increase profits and if they can get away with it, they'll do it unless customers demand otherwise. If they get away with something like heated seats you can bet on it the next options to become subscriptions will be iDrive, HVAC, heated steering wheel, HUD, etc. Basically, anything that's not related to safety would theoretically be made into a subscription so they can laugh their way to the bank on something that they use to just sell outright. For now, it seems they get it that the NA market will not tolerate this... for now. But knowing how corporation work they'll figure out a way to snake their money grubbing hands into our pockets some other way. It's our duty to let them know it won't be accepted and we'll take our business elsewhere if they ignore their customers.
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      07-14-2022, 12:33 PM   #16
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This is quiet a PR disaster IMHO. The fact they had to put out an official statement to essentially do damage control speaks volumes. I would not be surprised - actually fully expect their people to be on these forums and monitoring media sources to gather feedback. With substantial 2023 model price increases and supply chain issues, this is also, at a minimum, poor timing if nothing is currently planned in the US. As much as BMW is well regarded for driving dynamics and often at/near the forefront of technology implementation, speaking for myself, this kind of thing is sufficient for considering/moving to a different brand. If nothing else, it creates an opportunity for competing and emerging brands to say they don't charge for heated seats, heated steering wheel, high beams etc. I can just see other brands' commercials throwing shades at this.
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      07-14-2022, 12:39 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zilan23 View Post
I heard Volkswagen is also looking into subscriptions for basic things like air conditioning. Honestly, if this is the route VW and other manufacturers like BMW are going to go I'm sure there will be a manufacturer that doesn't choose to go in this direction to capture all of the customers VW and BMW will piss off.
For AC? That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard!!!
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      07-14-2022, 12:40 PM   #18
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The whole idea of On Demand Features is stupid.
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      07-14-2022, 12:41 PM   #19
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If they could create a useful software for the car and sell it, I am willing to pay "reasonable" price for it.

If they try to sell hardware option (that the vehicle already comes with) that gets "turned-on" on demand? Big NO. Especially for options like heated seats that are standard on the cheapest Toyotas? That's an insult.
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      07-14-2022, 12:44 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glen e View Post
BMWNA is not stupid. They know that they would absolutely have a riot on their hands from both their dealers and their customers in the United States if they started putting subscriptions on basic stuff like seat heaters…
I'd lead the riot haha
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      07-14-2022, 12:47 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by JustinHEMI View Post
I'd lead the riot haha
I'd follow your lead.

***sharpens pitchfork
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      07-14-2022, 12:48 PM   #22
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The value of subscribing to the service is that the product gets updated/stays current or it is an exclusive.

Vehicles and their associated functions are commodity.

I would pay for heated seats if I knew that eventually I would get upgrades to the seats like massaging seats, ventilated seats, leather care, seat cleaning, etc. every 3-6 months.

Want to charge for a commodity then regularly enhance it.
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