Teslas will now drive completely by themselves, not just for testing.  The carmaker will offer a subscription for full autonomy at the beginning of the year

German carmaker Mercedes joins the current trend where manufacturers make money not only on the cars themselves, but also on de facto software improvements. For customers who can (and will) afford it, offers in its online store a package called “Acceleration Improvements”, reports The Verge.

For annual subscription of 1200 US dollars (converted to about 28,100 CZK) will provide owners of Mercedes-EQ EQE and Mercedes-EQ EQS electric cars with an increase in engine power by 20 to 24% (depending on the specific model), higher torque and a reduction in the time required to reach a speed of 100 km/h Dynamic drive mode by 0.8 to 1.0 seconds.

Subscription for what the car can already do

The subscription does not include any physical hardware upgrades – it just unlocks the vehicle’s full capabilities. This cannot be interpreted other than that the car manufacturer deliberately limited the performance of the cars in order to later sell it as an “optional equipment”. So drivers should pay for access to the performance their car is capable of from the factory.

Mercedes’ offer has its own logical justification. So from the car company’s point of view, certainly. As global new car sales have declined in recent years, some manufacturers have moved to a model where they sell software updates and unlock various features to customers, they get a permanent source of income long after the vehicle is purchased.

While this makes sense for some specific offerings, such as premium features in navigation or remote vehicle monitoring, charging for performance is part of a highly controversial trend where automakers are deliberately limiting the capabilities of factory-installed hardware.

Customer, pay!

The idea of ​​letting customers pay for the maximum performance that a car has from the factory has caused a stir in professional circles quite an outrage. For example The Verge refers to this trend as “disgusting”. The Drive states that “Mercedes Now Takes Subscriptions To A Whole New, Insane Level” and its editor refers to this type of subscription as disgusting and dishonest.

Mercedes comes up with this idea just a few months after its German rival. BMW caused a wave of indignation in 2020 when in some countries it charged a monthly subscription of $18 (approx. CZK 420) for the option of heated seats.

Although electric heated seats are installed in the affected cars, they can only be used by those who pay for them. BMW faced such public criticism for this that the North American branch even issued a statement defending it.

An even more controversial effort was BMW’s attempt to charge its customers $80 (approx. CZK 1,870) per year for access to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functions. At the same time, virtually all car manufacturers provide their customers with these connectivity options for free. It is therefore not surprising that the Munich carmaker did not succeed with this idea.

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