Currently reading: BMW will not charge extra to activate existing functions in cars
BMW is set to expand its function-on-demand offering but won't make owners pay to activate heated seats again

BMW will expand its offering of paid-for on-demand services and functions with future models – but its sales boss has said the firm is not considering charging customers to activate hardware-based functions in the future.

As with many car firms, the Munich company is using the increasing connectivity of cars to offer over-the-air updates, which can include the ability to add new functions. BMW created controversy last year after offering a monthly subscription to activate heated seats in some models.

Asked how BMW will ensure customers don’t feel they’re being made to pay extra for functions they would previously have expected as standard, Pieter Nota, the firm’s board member for sales and marketing, said: “We have some experience with that, and testing how the customer responds is part of that process.

“We actually are now focusing with those ‘functions on demand’ on software and service-related products, like driving assistance and parking assistance, which you can add later after purchasing the car, or for certain functions that require data transmission that customers are used to paying for in other areas.

“What we don’t do any more – and that is a very well-known example – is offer seat heating by this way. It’s either in or out. We offer it by the factory and you either have it or you don’t have it.

“We thought that we would provide an extra service to the customer by offering the chance to activate that 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. So that was the reason we stopped that.”

Asked which services the firm could charge for, Nota said: “What we find is software-based services, like downloading a parking assist product, is very well accepted. People know it’s a certain piece of software they can download that costs money. It’s the same as downloading a film or an extra feature on an app. That is accepted and we do that increasingly successfully.”

James Attwood

James Attwood, digital editor
Title: Acting magazine editor

James is Autocar's acting magazine editor. Having served in that role since June 2023, he is in charge of the day-to-day running of the world's oldest car magazine, and regularly interviews some of the biggest names in the industry to secure news and features, such as his world exclusive look into production of Volkswagen currywurst. Really.

Before first joining Autocar in 2017, James spent more than a decade in motorsport journalist, working on Autosport,, F1 Racing and Motorsport News, covering everything from club rallying to top-level international events. He also spent 18 months running Move Electric, Haymarket's e-mobility title, where he developed knowledge of the e-bike and e-scooter markets. 

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gagaga 9 September 2023

So people are happy to pay to enable a piece of software to activate the auto-parking hardware already in in the car, but not pay to activate a piece of software that enables the seat warmer hardware in their car?

And autocar prints this dirge with a straight face.

Boris9119 7 September 2023

Not sure what's more dissappointing, BMW requiring you to pay for a car that has functions deactivated, or BMW buyers being willing to pay a second time to have them activated. Says a lot about BMW, but even more about their customers?

Peter Cavellini 7 September 2023

I've had my BMW for over three and half years and I've never used any other functions regularly other than the Radio or mobile phone, I've never ever used the flappy paddle gearbox function, I don't see the point the q autob ox is quick enough on kick down, heated seats are a Winter thing handy in the Morning,mpaying a monthly sub is just another banking faff, I'd sooner when ordering a new car have the option fitted and just pay for it, and who is going to download and cancel of and on an option?,no, I thing this is just a useless idea, it probably saves BMW money building the car with all the options built in.