The advent of connected technologies and other high-tech systems has created an entirely new avenue for companies to make money.
Industries that previously made only tangible products can now market the services for those products, and the more advanced the internet-connected item, the more potential for service-related revenue.
The auto industry, naturally, has taken notice. The era of over-the-air vehicle software updates is already here, and car makers are exploring ways to use them to their advantage. For some — such as Ford — that means charging for customized software solutions, but for others, many, many more features are evidently on the table.
Reports this week indicated that German luxury automaker BMW is now charging drivers for access to hardware already installed in the vehicle: namely, their heated seats.
In certain countries — not the U.S., for now — owners will need to buy a subscription to get BMW’s software to unlock that little jolt of warmth in the winter. On a per month basis, it will run the equivalent of $18; they range up to $180 per year, $300 for three years, and $415 for “unlimited” access.
Without paying up, the heating systems embedded in the seats will apparently just sit idle.
And the heated seats aren’t alone. The automaker’s U.K. marketplace, according to the Verge, lists prices for a heated steering wheel (at $12 per month), recording footage from on-vehicle cameras ($235 for “unlimited”), and, apparently, the ability to play engine sounds in the the car for $117.
No word on exactly how the latter differs from just making “vroom” noises yourself.