A new survey by Luxury Car Finance Experts, Forza Finance, has revealed that most Brits oppose car brands charging monthly subscription fees for pre-installed hardware such as heated seats.
BMW sparked debate last year when they offered an online subscription to turn on heated front seats in its cars in the UK. The subscription starts at £15 per month and 91% of those asked said that this “does not represent good value”.
Whilst subscription pricing has been available for a while with many car brands, the offers differ by country. For the UK audience, the news was met with a frosty reception- with 75% not willing to sign up for creature comforts such as heated steering wheels.
Whilst car brands explain that subscription pricing gives drivers the flexibility to turn features on and off after purchase if they change their mind, it allows second-hand owners to add features to their car that weren’t originally added. 57% of drivers would be more tempted by a used car with no extra features than a new car with monthly subscriptions.
Opposition to subscription pricing in cars argues that if you’re buying a car outright that has certain features, you should have access to all of them, and having to pay to remove a block added by the carmaker is unfair.
Whilst the news has been met with almost complete negativity by UK drivers, (68% would not consider purchasing a new car at all if monthly subscriptions were mandatory) when it comes to vehicle performance features, like extra torque or horsepower, the responses are more even.
47% say that they would pay a subscription fee for vehicle performance features as essentially you’re getting a higher spec car for a minimal extra cost.
With car makers’ profit margins dwindling and cars themselves more full of computers than ever, it seems as though this trend will continue to grow whether we like it or not.
The only question is whether UK drivers will get on board with subscription pricing for their cars in the same way as they do for streaming services such as Netflix.
“Whilst there are those who argue that locking features of a car that you have already bought behind a paywall is unfair, this model does give drivers the flexibility to add and remove software as they see fit. We expect this trend to continue as cars continue to be crammed with more computers but whether or not the UK public will get on board with this pricing model is yet to be seen” – Saxton 4×4
Data in Full
The data was collected via Instagram story polls (@saxton4x4) in December 2022.
Do you think having to subscribe to features already built into your car is fair?
Yes: 8% No: 92%
Would you buy a heated seat subscription for £15 per month? Does it represent good value?
Yes: 8% No: 84%
Do you feel like brands such as BMW are prestigious enough to charge for monthly subscriptions?
Yes: 20% No: 80%
Would you pay a subscription fee for creature comforts, like heated or cooling seats or steering wheels?
Yes: 25% No: 75%
Would you still consider purchasing a new car if monthly subscriptions were mandatory?
Yes: 32% No: 68%
Would you pay a subscription fee for vehicle performance features, like extra torque or horsepower?
Yes: 47% No: 53%
Would you be more tempted by a used car with no extra features than a new car with monthly subscriptions?
Yes: 57% No: 43%