Annoyment Optional: BMW Envisions a Future of Temporary Features

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
annoyment optional bmw envisions a future of temporary features

The future’s weird, man. As wireless, over-the-air (OVA) software updates become an increasingly common thing in the auto industry, OEMs have weighed its potential. It opens doors to new ways of doing business. New ways of outfitting cars.

New ownership experiences, too.

Frankly, what BMW wants to pull on its customers would make a good QOTD. Some background, first.

Roadshow has a good rundown of what BMW proposed during a German presentation Wednesday. Basically, after saying current-model vehicles running BMW Operating System 7 are capable of OVA updates (the first update will occur this month), the automaker waxed poetic about its plan to turn certain options into a service.

A potentially temporary service, not unlike your Netflix account.

Normally bundled into packages, these options — heated seats, adaptive cruise, automatic high beams and the like — could become something a buyer would pay for until they don’t feel like paying anymore. This, while making payments on the car itself.

Sure, buyers are used to paying for things like satellite radio after an initial grace/trial period, but this move would bump things up a notch. And it’s a two-sides thing, with pros and cons aplenty.

In the near future, buyers could choose to pay-as-you-go for a feature they only want on a temporary basis. Take the nifty headlamps and toasty seats, for example. Great to have for half the year. Then again, the mere ability to be able to log in and off from these features means the car left the factory with the necessary hardware installed. Paying more for a feature your car already has? And who’s to say the cost of that feature isn’t already baked into the vehicle’s sticker price? That’s bound to rub many the wrong way.

For an automaker, it streamlines the production process. Outfit all build configurations with much of the same software and hardware (thank you, economies of scale), then rake in extra money after the fact by having buyers pay to unlock certain features. It’s positively Tesla-like in its brilliance/sleaziness, though the possibility of offending loyal buyers is very real.

From Roadshow:

These options will be enabled via the car or the new My BMW app. While some will be permanent and assigned to the car, others will be temporary, with mentioned periods ranging from three months to three years. Some, presumably, will be permanent, but during the stream’s Q&A portion BMW representatives demurred on the details

Okay, B&B — based on what you’ve heard thus far, what’s your take on this potential business tactic? If a Bimmer exec blundered into your house looking to use the washroom, what questions would you have them answer before allowing them to leave?

[Image: BMW]

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2 of 33 comments
  • Gedrven Gedrven on Jul 02, 2020

    You mean they'll come with all hardware standard, and all I have to do is figure out how to unlock it in software? Not that it applies to me, but that's great news. To echo a comment above, this is going to make some 15 year olds very wealthy.

  • JMII JMII on Jul 02, 2020

    This is beyond stupid. However as mentioned above BMW tried this with an Apple CarPlay monthly fee and it failed massively. I'm OK with pay to unlock, but having it expire? That is total nonsense! My worry, as someone who buys used vehicle, is what happens when the software that does the unlocking becomes EOL? I assume the aftermarket will step in but it is discouraging to see an OEM take this approach to "features".

  • SCE to AUX I charge at home 99% of the time, on a Level 2 charger I installed myself in 2012 for my Leaf. My house is 1967, 150-Amp service, gas dryer and furnace; everything else is electric with no problems. I switched from gas HW to electric HW last year, when my 18-year-old tank finally failed.I charge at a for-pay station maybe a couple times a year.I don't travel more than an hour each way in my Ioniq 1 EV, so I don't deal much with public chargers. Despite a big electric rate increase this year, my car remains ridiculously cheap to operate.
  • ToolGuy 38:25 to 45:40 -- Let's all wait around for the stupid ugly helicopter. 😉The wheels and tires are cool, as in a) carbon fiber is a structural element not decoration and b) they have some sidewall.Also like the automatic fuel adjustment (gasoline vs. ethanol).(Anyone know why it's more powerful on E85? Huh? Huh?)
  • Ja-GTI So, seems like you have to own a house before you can own a BEV.
  • Kwik_Shift Good thing for fossil fuels to keep the EVs going.
  • Carlson Fan Meh, never cared for this car because I was never a big fan of the Gen 1 Camaro. The Gen 1 Firebird looked better inside and out and you could get it with the 400.The Gen 2 for my eyes was peak Camaro as far as styling w/those sexy split bumpers! They should have modeled the 6th Gen after that.