BMW Responds: No Subscription Required, Your Heated Seats Will Work

The headlines (and Tweets, and Facebook posts) are popping up about BMW’s subscription services for some features, like extra BMW subscripon heated seats. In the U.K., for example, heated seats are an $18-per-month option in some cases. Similar features like high-beam assist, speed/safety camera detections, and others are also pay-to-use features. But after some fierce backlash, BMW wants to clarify how the ConnectedDrive Upgrades will work, especially in the U.S.

Your heated seats will always work in the U.S.

2023 BMW X6 Hybrid interior with heated seats.
BMW X6 Hybrid Interior | BMW

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BMW is now making it clear: “Heated seats are ordered on over 90% of the BMWs sold in the USA. If a vehicle is initially ordered with heated seats, that option will remain fully operational for the life of the vehicle,” BMW said in a statement. So, no BMW subscription seats in the U.S. BMW did add, however, that its ConnectedDrive Upgrades are designed to offer premium features through a software upload that uses the vehicles already built-in sensors in different ways. So, in effect, BMW looks at it like a mobile download for the vehicle that adds functionality. So, crank up the three-level heat in your 3-Series.

News organizations like CNN, too, have been reporting on the service and the backlash. But BMW isn’t the only company charging extra. Toyota locked remote start behind a paywall on its app. Rivian, too, has subscription plans.

In this case, the BMW subscription seats backlash has been quick and fierce

It looks like BMW is seeing the Tweets, too. What the company also wants to make sure people know: you can buy the new software that uses the sensors differently on a short-term basis and then buy it outright. ConnectedDrive, the company said, is a “digital aftersales solution,” like a new app for your phone that costs extra. The company said it is introducing the service in many markets around the world, and on a small-scale basis in the U.S. You can check the BMW ConnectedDrive store to see what’s available for your car.  

Audi and BMW offered monthly “subscription” services, too, for entire vehicles as an alternative to a longer-term lease. Those services died in January.

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