When buying a luxury car, you're expected to pay for amenities that aren't found in more basic models. The fit and trim are usually better, and you can usually get new features before they become mainstream models.
The premium nature of these perks is different for BMW.
In a global economy beset by rampant inflation, high gas prices, and the possibility of a recession, other automakers may see this as a way to generate incremental streams of revenue. They'd do it at their own risk.
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The U.K., Germany, South Africa, and New Zealand are just a few of the countries where BMW has introduced "microtransactions" for its cars.
Even the base model of mass-market vehicles can include a number of these features, such as heated seats and adaptive headlights. A lot of the features can be purchased with a one-time fee, but BMW is trying to turn them into recurring revenue streams.
It can turn its cars on and off with the flip of a switch if it builds its cars with all of the features built into the software.
In the U.K., heating the front seats of your expensive new BMW will cost you 15 British pounds a month or a one-time fee of 350 pounds. It would cost you 10 pounds a month or 200 pounds for the "unlimited" option to have adaptive high beams that dim when oncoming cars approach.
In comparison, Volkswagen charges $975 to add the feature to its Driver Assistance package, which includes a bunch of other high-tech features, such as automatic braking if you get too close to a car.
When airlines began charging passengers for every amenity, BMW's plan seems more similar to that.
Air travelers can now find fees for things like choosing a seat, paying for snacks, using a plane's wi-fi, or even having a non alcoholic beverage. People don't think the flying experience has improved because of those fees.
BMW is only changing the way it charges you, at least for some of the options, but buyers may not like the idea of having to open their wallet every time they want a new feature.
Many of the features in BMW's cars will never be used, so it will cost more to build them. nickel-and-diming customers may end up working against BMW because of the rising cost of a new car.
The average price of a new car is 45% higher than it was a year ago. In the first six months of the year, car sales are expected to be 5.8 million, which is better than the year ago period.
The introduction of niggling charges for what many might think should be a standard feature in a luxury car will win the automakers few friends and could further decrease sales.