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.”