Mercedes recently raised eyebrows when it announced that it was offering an over-the-air performance upgrade for its EQS models, which required a yearly subscription. Interestingly, it was BMW who first introduced the idea of turning EVs’ features into subscription services, but according to one company executive, the Bavarians won’t be doing the same when it comes to performance.
Unlike Mercedes, which locks some of the EQS and EQE’s performance unless you pay the yearly fee, BMW introduced a similar system but for a feature that didn’t affect the way vehicles drove. BMW is offering the heated seats option in some models for $18 per month, after all, a move that was met with almost unanimous negative reactions, so don’t think that it’s not limiting performance because it has a different philosophy compared to its rival from Stuttgart.
BMW’s head of technical development, Frank Weber, spoke during a round table at CES 2023 and made it clear that implementing this would bring more problems than it would be worth for the company. It has nothing to do with BMW not being interested in making more money off its customers, but instead it’s all about the hassle it would have to go through to get this homologated and legal for road use.
Mercedes currently charges $1,200 plus tax to give its bespoke EVs extra acceleration, enough to cut their acceleration time from standstill to sixty by just under one second. For the EQE 350 4Matic, for instance, the over the air performance update bumps up the power from 288 horsepower to 349 horsepower, while in the EQS 450 4Matic, it rises from 355 horsepower to 443 horsepower. This extra acceleration is only available in the Dynamic (sport) drive mode.
Buyers certainly won’t be pleased that the company they’re buying the car from wants to squeeze as much money from them as it can, and this may out of principle drive them to look at other brands that don’t do this. It will still be interesting to see if automakers will keep these subscription-based features long-term, or if they are just testing the water to gauge reactions - the company is already having problems with this system in Europe.