Doing this is already illegal in certain countries.
During an industry roundtable at the 2023 Consumer Elecrtonics Show, BMW said it would not offer over-the-air performance upgrades for its electric vehicles. That means if you want your BMW iX to accelerate more quickly, you will need to step up to the M60 variant. This news was confirmed by Frank Weber, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Development. It is important because BMW's stance on this differs from German rival Mercedes-Benz, which caught flack last year for its $1,200 Acceleration Increase subscription.
As a reminder, Mercedes charged $100 per month on its EQE 350 to raise the output from 288 to 349 horsepower. This would drop the 0-60 mph time from 6.0 to 5.2 seconds. On the EQS Sedan, output jumped from 355 to 443 hp, with the 0-60 dropping from 5.3 to 4.5 seconds. Owners who stopped paying $100 per month would lose the power boost.
So why won't BMW copy this business model? Well, it's not because BMW is averse to charging owners for OTA features. BMW has already experimented with offering heated seats as a subscription service in South Korea, but the idea received loads of backlash here in the US. Webber says BMW's decision isn't about responding to customers, but is simply easier for the company.
Automakers have to report power specifications for every new car, including any changes that are software-based. If BMW wanted to offer additional output options, it would need to refile for each one, a costly and time-consuming endeavor.
Mercedes has also faced legal troubles in Europe for its subscription-based power boosts. Such a service is not currently against the law in the US, but certain states like New Jersey want to make it illegal.
We personally don't see a problem with automakers unlocking more power from an EV for a fee, but would prefer it be a one-time purchase that stays with the car. For example, the Polestar 2 is available with a 68 hp boost for $1,195.