BMW is adding another subscription service to its cars, which would make users sign up in order to access services already built into their cars.
This could include heated seats, or advanced driver assistance systems such as adaptive cruise control.
The news comes as the car manufacturer announces updates to its vehicles operating system (called Operating System 7). New cars will have this feature built in.
BMW will be able to update remotely every line of code that makes the car’s systems work.
“BMW already offers its customers digital services and additional vehicle functions in the form of digital after-sales, some of which are deeply embedded in the vehicle's software. In the US, BMW Drive Recorder is offered through a pilot program” the announcement reads.
“In the near future, additional functions will be added that can access the vehicle's existing hardware and software, such as certain comfort functions or driver assistance systems.”
It has been reported that these features could include heated seats, as well as driver assist functionality such as automatic high beams or adaptive cruise control.
The Independent has reached out to BMW for clarification on the price of such features, as well as a full list of the features that would have to be enabled through microtransactions.
“In the near future, we will not only be able to add more functions here, but we will also be able to add even more flexibility for our customers with temporary bookings so booking of options for three years, for one year, or even shorter periods of time, like a few months,” a spokesperson told Techcrunch.
This is not the only instance where BMW offers over-the-air access to functionalities. “We offer maximum flexibility and peace of mind to our customers when it comes to choosing and using their optional equipment in their BMWs, whether this BMW is new or used,” a spokesperson also said.
“So flexible offers, immediate availability, simpler booking and easy usability for choice, at any time, when it comes to your optional equipment. We already started connectivity over 20 years ago and since 2014, we are online with our Connected Drive Store, where digital services can already be booked.”
The difference here, however, is that these options were digital entertainment or informational additions, rather than activating built-in hardware.
Other features mentioned in the announcement include a new map and navigation system, a reworked digital assistant, wireless Android Auto, and the “digital key” announced at Apple's WWDC.
In 2019, BMW had to u-turn on a decision to charge Apple CarPlay users £85 per year.
Apple CarPlay, launched in 2013 and rebranded in 2014, allows iPhone users to use voice commands via Siri and suggest directions based on events in your Mail app, as well as other functionalities. Android Auto offers similar functionality for Google users.
BMW is not the only car company that has been using subscription services to unlock features. Tesla recently announced a $97-per-month payment, over 72 months, for features including Navigate on Autopilot, Summon, and Autopark.