BMW seat heating: hackers advertise with paywall activation

BMW currently charges 17 euros per month in Germany for a seat heating subscription. Hackers are now offering to activate the function.

BMW is now also increasingly using the lucrative business model of paid subscriptions as an option for customers to access certain access services. Subscription-based access to vehicle features, like heated seats or remote start key fobs, is the latest attempt to charge people for things the car already came with. The paywall trend has already met with fierce resistance from customers. A hacker community that has been unlocking functions in BMWs for years has reacted to this. They informed Motherboard that they would be willing to help owners unlock subscription-only features.

Hackers use customer frustration for business idea

The hackers have been advertising their services in various enthusiast forums and on shopping websites for a long time , such as eBay and Etsy. They told Motherboard that they can also unlock subscription-based features. Paul Smith, content marketing specialist at BMW coding company Bimmer Tech, commented in an email to Motherboard:

“We are always listening to our customers and looking for ways to offer the features they want. As long as BMW allows seat heaters to be activated, we can consider that. If BMW doesn’t allow it, the same function can be added with a hardware upgrade, so that in the end the driver is always able to get what he wants.”

Car subscription services on the rise

For quite some time now, BMW has been selling 18 USD worth of heated seat subscriptions per month in a number of countries . Such in-vehicle services are known as “Functions on Demand”. But not only the seat heating, but also other additional functions on consumer BMWs have now been renamed “Connected Booster Package”. This means that certain digital functions are then blocked behind a subscription-based paywall.

BMW offers various subscription models

Accordingly, a monthly subscription for heating the BMW front seats in Germany costs 17 euros per month. There are additional options to renew for one year, three years, and indefinitely for 390 Euros. As The Verge points out, BMW has been slowly putting services behind subscriptions since 390. Heated seat features are currently available in BMW digital stores in countries such as the UK, Germany, New Zealand and South Africa. However, it doesn’t seem to be an option in the US yet.

BMW also offers a subscription service for a feature called High Beam Assist. It automatically switches off the high beam when there is oncoming traffic. This service costs 8 euros per month. The driving assistant can be permanently activated monthly for 30 euros. A heated steering wheel, on the other hand, costs nine euros per month.

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