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Tesla may follow BMW with controversial subscription

Tesla could be looking to lock heated front seats and heated wipers behind a paywall.

The change was found in code for the 2023.38.8 update by known Tesla hacker Green on X – formerly Twitter.

It’s unclear which Tesla vehicles this update will affect.

However, the code suggests Tesla will include the hardware for these features in its cars, with the option to activate them enabled via either an upfront charge or a subscription.

By moving it to the options list or making it a subscription, Tesla could potentially lower the list price of affected vehicles, which could in turn allow them to slide under price caps for electric vehicle (EV) incentives in various global markets – all while keeping production complexity to a minimum.

This change could be rolled out with the updated Model 3, of which Australian deliveries are due between January and March 2024. It features standard heated and ventilated front seats.

BMW controversially introduced subscriptions for heated seats last year through its ConnectedDrive store.

While it killed this subscription this year, it continues to offer a range of features through the store, which can be added by paying either a one-time fee or via a subscription, depending on the feature.

“What we don’t do any more – and that is a very well-known example – is offer seat heating by this way,” said BMW board member for sales and marketing Peter Niota in remarks published by Autocar.

“It’s either in or out. We offer it by the factory and you either have it or you don’t have it.

“We thought that we would provide an extra service to the customer by offering the chance to activate that later, but the user acceptance isn’t that high. People feel that they paid double – which was actually not true, but perception is reality, I always say. So that was the reason we stopped that.”


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