Locked Up: Mercedes-Benz to Charge for Access to EQS' Rear-Wheel Steering

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

If you want the more-advanced version of the rear-wheel steering system on the Mercedes-Benz EQS, and you live in Germany, prepare to pony up to unlock the software.

It will cost you about $575 a year to get an over-the-air update that will unlock the 10-degree rear-wheel-steering system. Unless you sign up for a three-year subscription, in which case you’ll pay a bit over $1,300, which is a bit of a discount in terms of per-year rate.

For now, American buyers won’t need to worry about this — the 10-degree system is standard here (the base in Germany is 4.5 degrees of rear-wheel steering). But it’s yet another example of automakers flirting with the idea of charging customers subscription fees to access certain features.

I’m not trying to be alarmist here — just because automakers are testing the idea, it doesn’t mean it will become standard operating procedure. Automakers might find consumer backlash to be too harsh, for example.

Yet it’s one more way in which the carmakers are at least trying to see what does and doesn’t work when it comes to subscription-only access to features. No matter how the future plays out, these dipping of toes into the water, so to speak, bear watching.

[Image: Mercedes-Benz]

Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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5 of 28 comments
  • Rpm773 Rpm773 on Jul 24, 2021

    While I very much dislike the idea, as long as this subscription nonsense stays in the > $90K neighborhood, i don’t really care. If someone is going to pay $175K for a car and let MB soak them another 575/year to unlock bits and pieces of it, that’s his business.

  • Ryoku75 Ryoku75 on Jul 24, 2021

    Isn't this a bit like subscribing to something just to start your own car with a keyfob?

  • Markf Markf on Jul 25, 2021

    The comments seem to be mostly right on. 3 year subscription fits in with the lease and expected reliability. I suspect car companies will not be happy when they turn into software/IT companies.

    • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Jul 25, 2021

      "I suspect car companies will not be happy when they turn into software/IT companies." At the two legacy OEM's where I worked, IT/IS was fairly terrible [good in places but overall a big mishmash of antiquated systems, and generally regarded as a drag on competitiveness]. When I left the second they were furiously hiring New Guys (mostly guys, mostly young) to work on New Stuff [in particular Big Data for telematics/etc.] - but you could already see the conflicts brewing between Old and New.

  • Roberto Esponja Roberto Esponja on Jul 26, 2021

    I'm not surprised. We had a 2008 ML550 and after about 2 years of ownership I wanted to activate the Bluetooth feature and came to find out that Mercedes charged about $425 if I remember correctly per year for the "privilege" of using it. No thanks, Mercedes. Gave me another reason not to buy that brand again.