BMW Thinks Buyers Will Pay Monthly For Luxury Features

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BMW tried and failed with subscriptions before, but it is trying again.

BMW and other brands have previously tried numerous routes to subscription success. For example, Porsche will "loan" you any car in its inventory for a fee. Generally speaking, the automotive community has not been receptive to these attempts at further monetization. For many, a vehicle is the next largest purchase a person will make next to a home. People want to own their cars outright.

As of July, BMW has rolled out a new subscription program for key luxury features in South Korea. The program is available on a number of models, including the BMW 3 Series. We should note that, as of now, BMW has not said if this will remain exclusive to the Korean market, or if the Korean market is a test bed for this latest attempt at a subscription model for the Bavarian brand.

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BMW Korea
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Side Perspective Driving BMW

Above is a screenshot of all current subscription features from BMW, now available to order in the Korean market. Highlights include enhanced engine noise for a one-time $140 USD purchase and heated seats for $18 a month. We should note that these options can still be purchased wholesale. The heated seats, for example, can be bought for $409.33.

Other items include High Beam Assist ($8.50/month), a heated wheel ($10/month), ADAS software ($308/month), and BMW Drive Recorder ($11/month). Each of those can be purchased wholly for a predetermined sum. BMW's Drive Recorder is currently available here in the US, and pricing for it varies based on the model. For example, it's $100 on the i4, and $200 on the i7.

2022-2023 BMW i4 Open Car BMW
2022-2023 BMW i4 Charging BMW
2022-2023 BMW i4 Rear Angle View BMW
BMW/Electrify America

BMW's continued efforts to further monetize its products is understandably a sensitive subject for many. As we said, buying a car is a massive purchase, and owners simply don't look at a car subscription through the same lens that one would a Netflix subscription.

For much of America, a car is an essential item. Our public transport infrastructure is, in many cases, hilariously ill-equipped to handle the environment in which it operates. Streets are not safe for cyclists, and northern climates do not adequately remove snow from sidewalks.

Not owning a car severely limits mobility, especially in more rural environments. In some ways, buying a BMW or other, and then paying for both a loan/lease and a subscription is much like buying a home, then paying a mortgage while also paying the bank to use your home's garage door opener.

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2022-2023 BMW i4 Front Angle View
2022-2023 BMW i4 Open Car
2022-2023 BMW i4 Charging
2022-2023 BMW i4 Rear Angle View
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