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This is how subscriptions affected the automotive industry.

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Image by ElisaRiva via

Subscription-based car features are on the rise. How will this affect the automotive industry?

I would have never thought that the epidemic of microtransactions and subscriptions would spread to the automotive industry too. I thought only video games and TV channels had that. Expectingly, seeing how everything is becoming subscription-based, it shouldn’t be a surprise.

In fact, the World Economic Forum has said that we’ll own nothing, and be happy about it. This is part of their “Great Reset” plan. This sounds dystopian to me.

you'll own nothing and you'll be happy about it ad
You will own nothing, and you’ll be happy about it. (image by the WEF).

Let’s investigate how things have progressed so far, by considering the biggest car manufacturers. Minuscule car features and functionalities or being locked behind a paywall. Sometimes, even connecting your phone to the infotainment costs money. Things are already progressing toward a bleak future. So, what do the top brands have to say about it?

1. Mercedes-Benz

By introducing the EQS model as a replacement for the iconic S-Class, Mercedes-Benz has committed to electrifying its entire range. Though the EQS looks fantastic from every angle, and has endless high-tech equipment, it still manages to grind my gears.

For example, the EQS has rear-wheel steering. This means it can turn the rear wheels by 10 degrees, for easier maneuvering in tight spaces. It also adds comfort on the highway. This equipment is fitted as standard in all EQS models. However, only those who pay about $575/year or $1,376 for 3 years will have it activated. Those who don’t, will only get 4.5 degrees of turning rate.

What’s the deal with this movement? What’s the point in locking the functionality of pre-installed equipment? That communicates to me that Mercedes is just money-hungry and devises gimmicky ways of getting extra cash. Despite the car costing $110k, you still have to pay extra.

This is completely redundant, and it only makes the customers bitter. Also, fitting car parts that don’t work, just pollutes the environment. Imagine if the customer never paid for the feature. That would be just a waste.

There is an apparent hypocrisy of Mercedes-Benz regarding sustainability and catering to its customers. Such practices will only stain the name of the brand, despite being long established in the automotive world.

2. Lexus

Another luxury brand that thinks subscriptions to car functions are justified, is Lexus. If you want to remotely start your car, you’ll have to pay from $8-16 monthly or $80-160 annually. Next time, they’ll probably charge you for wanting to unlock your car with your key.

But wait! Not everything is as pessimistic as it looks, because Lexus cares about its customers. It offers a 1-year free trial of its remote unlocking feature before it completely gets disabled. Now that’s really generous! Remember that when you lock yourself out of your car. Thank you, Lexus!

3. BMW

BMW’s decision is related to ‘Apple CarPlay’. They thought that if Apple/iPhone customers can spend money on a trendy phone, why wouldn’t they also pay for connecting their phone to the car’s infotainment? Even if it’s a smart move from a marketing point of view, BMW has stooped as low as Lexus.

I really didn’t think they could come up with a solid excuse about paying $80/year for a phone connectivity feature. Thankfully, the backlash did its job and BMW dropped its decision. Who knew that endless TikTok memes would do the trick? Let’s see what else they’ll come up with later.

4. Porsche

Porsche got jealous, and did the same thing as Lexus. The ‘Porsche Connect App’ offers remote lock/unlock-ing of the car. It also adds some monitoring functions such as the remaining range of the car, communication with the dealer, etc. The package starts at $235/year. Knowing Porsche’s prices, I’d expect it to cost about five times more for the full package.

5. Tesla

Did you think the “trendy” Tesla would be left out? I don’t think so. No matter how much the internet puts Tesla on a pedestal, it still has its great caveats. One of them is the subscription-based features.

Tesla wants from you a $10,000 upfront payment or $199/month for enabling the ‘Full Self-Driving’ (FSD) package on your car. Both the hardware and software are already installed, but their functionality isn’t. If you thought this was bad, then you should know that Elon Musk tweeted a price increase to $12,000 just two days ago. But don’t worry. Only in the USA, you’ll have to pay the two extra grand. Everywhere else that will be just $10,000. Phew…

The only upside of this story is the non-binding activation This means that if you no longer wish to pay, you can cancel at any time.

6. General Motors (GM)

GM believes driver assistance systems shouldn’t be offered for free. As such, the ‘Super Cruise’ package, found in the Cadillac, will be expanded to the rest of the group. Essentially, the package contains multiple features. Such as lane-keeping assistance, driver’s attention monitoring camera, map updates, etc., and will set you back $25/month. Just like in the examples above, there is a three-year free trial available with the purchase of a new car.


I could spend the whole day looking for questionable practices of car manufacturers, but I believe I made my point.

Subscriptions will take full control of anything you own, and not just your car. That will be the point of no return for these avaricious practices.

What do you think about subscription-based features in cars?

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