Mercedes-Benz is beginning to lock currently available features in its cars behind paywalls.
- The German automaker has joined other manufacturers by locking features for its Mercedes-EQ EQE and Mercedes-EQ EQS electric vehicles behind a paywall.
- Acceleration Increase is a feature built into the car that allows for faster acceleration that will only be available for an annual payment of $1,200.
- “Coming soon—Accelerate more powerfully: increase the torque and maximum output of your Mercedes-EQ,” says Mercedes-Benz.
Why it’s Important
Locking features behind paywalls has become a way for automakers to bolster revenue streams in the face of falling sales. Subscription services like Onstar and XM Radio are not new for cars but these services do not impact the performance of the car or require upgrades. The physical hardware necessary for Acceleration Increase to function is locked until the owner pays for it.
“While this makes sense for certain software-specific offerings (such as premium navigation features or remote vehicle monitoring), Mercedes pay-walling its vehicle performance is part of an emerging, more loathsome trend that sees auto brands restricting the capabilities of hardware that already comes factory-equipped with the vehicle,” says The Verge.
The feature allows the EVs to boost performance by 20% to 24%, shortens acceleration time, and increases torque.
Other automakers have attempted similar subscription services as well, such as BMW charging $18 per month for heated seats. BMW previously attempted to charge $80 per year for access to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which is usually a free feature.
“When you pay a monthly subscription for a phone or for broadband, you’re paying for the company to supply and maintain a data network. Mercedes is asking you to pay for hardware it has already installed in the car—and which it presumably already made a profit margin on when you bought the car. Trying to leverage even more profit out of subscription services is a worrying trend and I hope there is a consumer backlash against it,” says Courier motoring editor Jack McKeown.