BMW has sparked outrage after introducing a £15 monthly fee for heated seats.
It is one of a number of features only available to customers on a subscription basis, and the move has been blasted as 'greedy' and 'exploitative'.
It is particularly controversial given that the hardware for these features had to be installed in the vehicle at the time of production, but a software block has now put their functionality behind a paywall for some drivers.
In the UK, using the installed system to heat a front seat costs £15 a month, £150 for a year, £250 for three years or £350 for perpetuity.
The front-seat heating feature is one of the numerous optional add-on software upgrades available in BMW's ConnectedDrive, and has so far been spotted in stores in the United Kingdom, Germany, South Korea, New Zealand and South Africa, according to The Verge, it is not being rolled out in the US and so far there are no plans to.
The publication asked BMW for the exact details of the roll-out, but it said it was unable to confirm when the subscriptions had been launched in which countries.
Other features being offered up on a subscription basis include steering wheel heating, adaptive suspension and the option to record footage on a vehicle's cameras.
According to a statement from BMW, the features aren't behind a paywall if they are purchased when the car is ordered, but they become additional, paid-for features if the driver later decides they want them after that initial purchase.
This is wild — BMW is now selling a monthly subscription service for heated seats in your car.— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) July 12, 2022
• Monthly fee: $18
• Annual fee: $180
The car will come with all the necessary components, but payment is needed to remove a software block.
Welcome to microtransaction hell.
A spokesperson for BMW told Sky News: "Where heated seats, or any feature available in the ConnectedDrive store have been purchased when a customer vehicle is ordered, no subsequent subscription or payment is necessary.
"The ConnectedDrive Store offers customers the opportunity to add selected features, which they did not order when the vehicle was built, at a later date.
"This can be helpful for new customers should their circumstances change after their purchase. For secondary owners, this functionality is particularly useful, as they now have the opportunity to add features the original owner did not choose.
"Customers can enable all hardware features for a one-time payment or if preferable, choose an annual or monthly subscription, depending on the feature.
"This enables drivers to experiment with a feature by purchasing a short-term trial before committing to a purchase."
— Trung Phan (@TrungTPhan) July 13, 2022
Me in my BMW in the winter after refusing to pay $18 a month for heated seats pic.twitter.com/CqaynZTbcP
The decision to put features behind a paywall has been roundly blasted, both by BMW owners and people who are just concerned about the way the world is headed.
On Twitter, entrepreneur and investor Joe Pompliano described the move as 'wild', adding: "Welcome to microtransaction hell."
Another critic wrote: "BMW is starting to sell a subscription fee for heated seats to remove the software that blocks you from gaining access to it. Capitalism doesn't breed innovation. Capitalism breeds a future where people have to jailbreak their car for features that are already built into it."
While another added: "Horrible move from @BMW. I will never drive a car that requires a subscription for heated seats. Ridiculous."
LADbible has contacted BMW for comment.