High-end German automaker BMW revised its list of pay-as-you-go offerings removing one that generated a great deal of heat when it was launched last year.
In 2022, BMW led the way with a video-game approach to features utilizing micro-transactions to allow buyers to more fully customize their cars.
The most head-scratching offering was an optional monthly charge for heated seats.
For $18 a month, buyers could turn on a feature that most high-end cars offer as part of a base package.
Micro features are a common ploy in the high-tech and media worlds where upsells are accepted practice.
It is common to see premium subscriptions that remove ads or other disruptions from media sites.
Uber is another example where a company rolled out upsells for premium car services for additional fees.
But when BMW and VW both announced a similar approach many consumers and industry veterans were skeptical.
BMW’s new announcement backs off the strategy of charging usage for already installed physical features such as heated seats and heated steering wheels, instead focusing on software and services.
Users will be able to skip the purchase of features like driver and parking assistance when they acquire a car but still have the option of upgrading the vehicle later by selecting from a library of micro features that can be downloaded and added at will.
Pieter Nota, BMW board member for sales and marketing, shrugged away the change. ‘We thought that we would provide an extra service to the customer by offering the chance to activate heated seats later, but the user acceptance isn’t that high. People feel that they paid double – which was actually not true, but perception is reality, I always say.’