Mercedes have announced that you’ll be able to increase the performance of Mercedes-EQ vehicles in selected regions by paying a yearly price of $1,200. This option marks the growing trend for car manufacturers to restrict hardware purchased by consumers and lock features and performance behind subscriptions.
Earlier this year BMW gave the option for drivers of specific car models to pay an $18 per month subscription for heated seats, and since 2020, Tesla has offered a performance boost for a one-off payment of around $2,000.
In essence, consumers are being charged extra for hardware that they already own.
But, car manufacturers argue that making features available through subscription allows users to try before they buy and that subscriptions also allow for secondhand purchasers to use features the original buyer didn’t want.
However, according to Cox Automotive, the world’s largest automotive service organization, 75% of consumers are unwilling to pay a subscription for additional features.
The Mercedes performance upgrade increases the maximum motor output (kW) of Mercedes-EQ vehicles by 20% to 24%, depending on the original output from the factory, which increases torque and enables the vehicle to accelerate noticeably faster. After the upgrade, the time it takes to accelerate from 0 to 60 MPH is shortened by around 0.8 to 0.9 seconds.
What’s noteworthy about Mercedes locking performance behind a yearly subscription is that, unlike BMW’s subscription features, there isn’t a one-off payment option like there is in some regions — plus, unlike Tesla’s performance boost the upgrade won’t continue if the car is sold to another user.
The trend to add subscription payments seems to come after experts predict the lowest new car sales in 10 years, based on a report by Germany’s Center for Automotive Research (CAR).
The drop in sales is said to be due to the impact of the Coronavirus, the Ukraine war, and the global economic slowdown. Subscription models will help car manufacturers keep profits high by providing another stream of revenue.
In fact, car manufacturer GM has predicted that monthly subscriptions could generate an annual income of $25 billion by 2030.
On a final note. At the end of 2019, BMW backtracked on its decision to charge drivers a subscription for Apple CarPlay, and Mercedes has yet to announce when the option to increase performance will be available — but we can hope that like BMW they’ll change their mind.