Will you pay extra for digital features already installed on the car you bought?
This is a business model the tech industry has toyed with before. The idea is that you bake all your hardware features into a product, but sell it with some of the features' software locked. It can be a less cynical tactic, however, when new features are created using existing hardware as Tesla has done before.
When done cynically, it's frustrating for customers who have paid for the hardware on the car and the software is already available but has just been locked. That's not how BMW is framing its plan to allow you to activate more functions after purchasing a car, though.
"We want to offer our customers different dimensions of sheer driving pleasure – including the latest digital services and the possibility of booking functions as needed," said Peter Henrich, Senior VP, BMW Product Management. "All new BMW vehicles are now technologically enabled for this and we will be systematically expanding this offering."
BMW says that current examples include High-Beam Assistant, Active Cruise Control (ACC) driver assistance system with Stop&Go, and the BMW Drive Recorder. In the case of BMW Drive Recorder, that would mean camera hardware for Parking Assistant Plus will need to be already fitted to, say your new BMW 5 Series so that you can upgrade through the BMW ConnectedDrive Store. With a cynic's hat on, that sounds like a case of: "You bought the technology, and now you have to pay extra to use it."
"Our goal is to ensure the customer no longer has to adapt to the specifics of their vehicle, but for the vehicle to be geared instead towards their personal and individual requirements," explains Jens Thiemer, Senior VP, Customer and Brand BMW.
Which, when you break it down like that, it makes the idea more palatable - assuming you can pick and choose your options rather than have to purchase packages. BMW also points out that it means a BMW can be kept digitally up-to-date for years to come. That would make owning a car for longer more attractive to many buyers, and, as BMW also points out, "... Secondary buyers are no longer tied to the digital features of the previous owner, but can choose whatever suits their own needs and requirements."