Would you pay a subscription to make your car go faster?

Sam Vimes

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Sep 7, 2020
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A little while back BMW annouced a subscription service to unlock additional features on some of its cars - like the heated seats. Well now Mercedes have annouced an annual subscription of about £991 to allow your car to accelerate from 0-60 in 1 second less than a normal - 5.2s instead of 6.2s.

There may well be other benefits in terms of torque but even if I had the money I wouldn't pay for this. However, I do know some people who probably would.

How long before adverts appear on your dashboard and you have to pay to remove them? Or someone hacks your car and causes all sorts of problems.
 
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Reactions: ProfJohnL
Nov 11, 2009
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I think I should buy the converse as earlier this week my car messaged my after a trip on the M4. The message related to the max speed on the journey;80 mph. So I’m looking through the menus to set a warning bleep at 75 mph via gps
 
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May 7, 2012
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Not a chance, I am more interested it a good MPH and going faster would not help my case. If you were seen to take the option it could make defending any court action difficult as it would be said the option meant you were interested in speeding as the car would easily maintain the legal speed limit without the option.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Not a chance, I am more interested it a good MPH and going faster would not help my case. If you were seen to take the option it could make defending any court action difficult as it would be said the option meant you were interested in speeding as the car would easily maintain the legal speed limit without the option.
I suspect that the MB in question is already governed to 155 mph so the subscription is giving you increased acceleration. But charging nearly £1000pa for a few software related changes goes against my instincts. But where the prestige brands go the mainstream will follow. Unfortunately in this case.
 
Jun 16, 2020
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I have two thoughts. First, those that are prepared to pay subscriptions will help to subsidise and sustain the industry for the rest of us.

Second, I tend to purchase 2nd hand high spec cars. I think that gives the best value for money. In the future the toys would still need the subscription for activation. No thanks.

Perhaps hackers will beat the system 😃.

John
 
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Nov 11, 2009
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I have two thoughts. First, those that are prepared to pay subscriptions will help to subsidise and sustain the industry for the rest of us.

Second, I tend to purchase 2nd hand high spec cars. I think that gives the best value for money. In the future the toys would still need the subscription for activation. No thanks.

Perhaps hackers will beat the system 😃.

John
Wonder how the subscription is dealt with for tax as a company car as presumably the list price is lower, and the subscription can be taken out post delivery.
 
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Oct 8, 2006
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Extra charging is not new. Our 2018 Passat has facilities within the 'infotainment system' (how I hate that expression!) that you have to pay for the dealer to activate. Parts of the handsfree operation, navigation bits, and some bluetooth bits I think are part of them. The trouble is it is a large once-off payment for a tech to plug a laptop in for about a minute!
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Extra charging is not new. Our 2018 Passat has facilities within the 'infotainment system' (how I hate that expression!) that you have to pay for the dealer to activate. Parts of the handsfree operation, navigation bits, and some bluetooth bits I think are part of them. The trouble is it is a large once-off payment for a tech to plug a laptop in for about a minute!
I’m quite fortunate in that respect as my new to me Approved ( pre owned) Kia had its full 7 year warranty reinstated which included 7 years of Kia Connect infotainment and Navigation updates inclusive at no charge.
 
Nov 6, 2005
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Extra charging is not new. Our 2018 Passat has facilities within the 'infotainment system' (how I hate that expression!) that you have to pay for the dealer to activate. Parts of the handsfree operation, navigation bits, and some bluetooth bits I think are part of them. The trouble is it is a large once-off payment for a tech to plug a laptop in for about a minute!
If you go on a VW or Passat internet forum, you could probably find a nearby member with VCDS to change standardised settings - I've got a limited-VIN VCDS and have changed several settings rather than pay dealer rates.

In future, I suspect car makers will make it harder for third-parties to create software which emulates the factory/dealer systems - but I equally suspect that "hackers" will work even harder to do so.
 
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Mar 14, 2005
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It's bad enough that you buy a product which has all physical the capability to do more but is artificially restricted to prevent you from using all of it, and then offering to unlock it for a one off disproportionately large sum.

But it's another and I think entirely unreasonable for manufacturer to make it a repeating charge to licence and keep the feature available. This means you do not own that part of the product!

It effectively is allowing your ownership of a product to be controlled by the manufacturer for life, so do you technically own the vehicle?

It is a way for a manufactured to continue to make money (for virtually nothing) for the life of a product.
 

Sam Vimes

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Sep 7, 2020
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I have mixed feelings about this. The choice is yours to make and is it much different from leasing a car which has become more popular over the years.

Subscription services are creeping in everywhere.

You don't own Kindle Books.

If you have something like Amazon Prime and have bought some videos for streaming you don't own those.

You don't own some of the software you may have bought.

Some of the software is only available on a subscription.

You may have smart gadgets that require an online subscription to work and can be terminated at anytime.

You may have streaming services which are laced with ads and the only way to remove them is with a subscription on top of the subscription you're already paying.

There are probably many other things we think we own but in reality don't.

I can't help feeling we're trying to be 'fleeced' more and more.
 
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Reactions: ProfJohnL
Nov 11, 2009
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It's bad enough that you buy a product which has all physical the capability to do more but is artificially restricted to prevent you from using all of it, and then offering to unlock it for a one off disproportionately large sum.

But it's another and I think entirely unreasonable for manufacturer to make it a repeating charge to licence and keep the feature available. This means you do not own that part of the product!

It effectively is allowing your ownership of a product to be controlled by the manufacturer for life, so do you technically own the vehicle?

It is a way for a manufactured to continue to make money (for virtually nothing) for the life of a product.
Rolls Royce have been doing it for many years for aero engines in the commercial sector. But few airlines, if any, own their planes anyway.
 
Oct 8, 2006
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If you go on a VW or Passat internet forum, you could probably find a nearby member with VCDS to change standardised settings - I've got a limited-VIN VCDS and have changed several settings rather than pay dealer rates.

In future, I suspect car makers will make it harder for third-parties to create software which emulates the factory/dealer systems - but I equally suspect that "hackers" will work even harder to do so.
Didn't realise it was VCDS that activated them - I've got a copy of that!
 
Jul 18, 2017
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If you go ahead with the subscription to make the car go faster, I wonder if there will be a knock on effect on emmissions resulting in a fail at the MOT?
 
Nov 11, 2009
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If you go ahead with the subscription to make the car go faster, I wonder if there will be a knock on effect on emmissions resulting in a fail at the MOT?
Since it is a makers own modification I would be surprised if there was a MoT penalty, but if CO2 emissions raise do you have to notify DVSA? Presumably if the mod is carried out prior to delivery it would be taxed accordingly, but what happens if the owner subsequently decides to not have the subscription service. It make paying cash upfront look increasingly attractive. Although with our recent purchase cash had no leverage, all that two dealerships wanted was PCP. The third one we tried got the cash sale and with a good overall deal too.
 
Nov 12, 2021
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So, BMW and other manufacturers are producing cars with all the bells and whistles included but you have to pay to activate the ones not included in the original purchase price. I wonder therefore, what impact activating these features would have on insurance premiums. My point being, you buy a cheaper model and insure it but, then you decide you want the heated seats, Intelligent headlight system, performance tweak, inboard headlights that actually work and whatever else takes your fancy. A model with all these features enabled would have cost more than the lesser model actually bought. Therefore, you have upgraded your car and insurance companies expect to be told about upgrades and modifications and usually increase the premium accordingly.
Just a thought.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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So, BMW and other manufacturers are producing cars with all the bells and whistles included but you have to pay to activate the ones not included in the original purchase price. I wonder therefore, what impact activating these features would have on insurance premiums. My point being, you buy a cheaper model and insure it but, then you decide you want the heated seats, Intelligent headlight system, performance tweak, inboard headlights that actually work and whatever else takes your fancy. A model with all these features enabled would have cost more than the lesser model actually bought. Therefore, you have upgraded your car and insurance companies expect to be told about upgrades and modifications and usually increase the premium accordingly.
Just a thought.
I agree but it’s an interesting one as if you had not subscribed and had a RTA you would still potentially damage all or some of the installed hardware features which may have to replaced in the repairs to the car. Software isn’t damageable so minimal cost issues to the insurance claim. But features that allow the car to accelerate faster etc are normally of interest to insurers. The new technology being introduced into vehicles will certainly challenge the insurers particularly the transfer of actions from a human to a machine.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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To update the Nav map on our vehicle would cost about £90 which is the cost of the labour. They plug in the laptop and go do another job while it is all downloading.

The update may only consist of a couple new roads being added which is why we are not bothered as have the TomTom and updates are free. Probably the same with any other update on any other vehicle?
 
Nov 11, 2009
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To update the Nav map on our vehicle would cost about £90 which is the cost of the labour. They plug in the laptop and go do another job while it is all downloading.

The update may only consist of a couple new roads being added which is why we are not bothered as have the TomTom and updates are free. Probably the same with any other update on any other vehicle?
My Garmin is now almost redundant as the new car has 7 years of free updates to navigation and infotainment systems. It also enables Apple and Google maps as required so I’m OTT with navigation aids.
 

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