Mercedes Putting Performance Behind Digital Paywall for EQ EVs

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Mercedes-Benz has made some changes to its commercial EQ website and now appears to be offering an “Acceleration Increase” subscription that boosts performance in exchange for an additional $1,200 per year. However it doesn’t do this by installing new hardware, Mercedes is just remotely goosing the powertrain it already has for massive gains. Though this also means it’s artificially limiting the output of those very same vehicles until its customers cave in and allow themselves to be locked into an annual fee.

Considering how often we’ve bemoaned subscription services on this website, it was hard not to see this one coming. Mercedes was one of the first legacy automakers to really lean into vehicle subscription services and tied rear-wheel steering to a subscription on EQS models in 2021. But the whole industry has been signaling that it wants to leverage EVs and vehicular connectivity for subscription-based features for the last several years. I cannot even begin to guess how many articles I’ve written on the matter and the same goes for some of our other contributors.

Tesla has tweaked vehicle performance in the past via over-the-air updates and numerous companies have capped battery performance between trims despite installed units having identical capacities. BMW even attempted to require customers to pay extra for seat warmers that were already installed inside the car, annoying the public so much that it actually had to release a statement where it tried to quell some of the outrage.

In the business community, this is known as “goods-as-a-service,” and has become broadly viewed as an ideal way to keep customers financially engaged in your products. The premise involves taking physical items that one can buy (or the features contained therein) and putting them into subscriptions that are easier to afford month-to-month but ultimately result in customers paying more over time while leaving ownership more or less in the hands of the manufacturer. This is one reason why you see so many automakers fixated on connectivity features of late, as it affords them additional avenues for revenue and perpetual access to the car.

If that sounds too insidious to be real, we’ve been talking about it for years because automakers continue to express variations of the concept in their long-term strategies. Your author is likewise under the assumption that this is why the industry seems so averse to complying with right-to-repair laws that are designed to protect consumers and often claims it cannot due to unspecified safety concerns. Regardless, there’s now a wealth of evidence that companies are using modern tech to nickel and dime customers – with Mercedes’ performance paywall just being the most recent and egregious example.

The gist is that, for an extra $1,200 per year, Mercedes will send a remote signal to your all-electric EQ model that adds enough horsepower to shave down the 0-60 mph time by roughly a second. The Drive compiled a list of the vehicles affected and noted that the official improvement actually ranged between 0.8 and 1.0 seconds, depending on the model.

With the aid of an “Acceleration Increase” subscription, Mercedes-EQ EQE 350 4MATIC models jump from 288 horsepower to 349 hp (with 0-60 mph moving from 6.0 to 5.1 seconds); the Mercedes-EQ EQE SUV 350 4MATIC moves from 288 hp to 349 hp (0-60 mph from 6.2 to 5.2 seconds); the Mercedes-EQ EQS 450 4MATIC powers up from 355 horsepower to 443 hp (0-60 mph from 5.3 to 4.5 seconds); and the Mercedes-EQ EQS SUV 4MATIC shifts from 355 hp to 443 hp (0-60 mph from 5.8 to 4.9 seconds).

Those are impressive leaps in performance, though we likewise figure the vehicles presumably would have already been capable of from the factory had they not been restricted by the manufacturer. It also has to be said that things like this already happen with combustion engines (just not with the associated subscription fees and vehicular connectivity). Automakers sometimes de-tune engines to maximize longevity or even give them an opportunity to add performance trims and refreshes with upgraded horsepower later on. But it’s always been something you paid for upfront, rather than being locked behind an on-demand paywall.

[Image: emirhankaramuk/Shutterstock]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by  subscribing to our newsletter.

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

More by Matt Posky

Join the conversation
3 of 41 comments
  • Conundrum Conundrum on Nov 21, 2022

    Just one more step towards the oligarch ideal of "you will own nothing, merely rent services so that we your masters have a comfortable and stable monthly revenue stream. All your "monies" are ours, cash will not exist so shady deals cannot happen unless we authorize them. You will be happy, never accumulate capital, but bow down to the corporate state. And never ever get ill unless you have a preauthorized health insurance plan paid for on a monthly basis like everything else. Life will be super peachy keen!"

    I agree with Posky on this one. Never saw such simpleton dissembling and silly excuses to justify corporate robbery in the comments. Wait till internet-connected pay toilets invade private homes. It'll be a buck a dump. "That's fair," will go the excusers, "I mean, there's far too much water wastage as it is, and if I can hold it in better than you, I can save money."

    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Nov 22, 2022

      Conundrum is an ironic name for one who typed out an anti-subscription screed on a device requiring a subscription. Eye roll 🙄

  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Nov 22, 2022

    Make the grille emblem larger and I'll pay whatever you want.

  • Doug brockman There will be many many people living in apartments without dedicated charging facilities in future who will need personal vehicles to get to work and school and for whom mass transit will be an annoying inconvenience
  • Jeff Self driving cars are not ready for prime time.
  • Lichtronamo Watch as the non-us based automakers shift more production to Mexico in the future.
  • 28-Cars-Later " Electrek recently dug around in Tesla’s online parts catalog and found that the windshield costs a whopping $1,900 to replace.To be fair, that’s around what a Mercedes S-Class or Rivian windshield costs, but the Tesla’s glass is unique because of its shape. It’s also worth noting that most insurance plans have glass replacement options that can make the repair a low- or zero-cost issue. "Now I understand why my insurance is so high despite no claims for years and about 7,500 annual miles between three cars.
  • AMcA My theory is that that when the Big 3 gave away the store to the UAW in the last contract, there was a side deal in which the UAW promised to go after the non-organized transplant plants. Even the UAW understands that if the wage differential gets too high it's gonna kill the golden goose.