With those words, a little-noticed Mercedes-Benz website unleashed a revolution in new-car sales—one that car shoppers had feared.
Mercedes has launched a subscription service for vehicle upgrades. For $1,200 annually, owners of Mercedes electric vehicles will be able to sign up for a performance add-on for their cars.
The annual subscription is available on four all-electric Mercedes models: EQE sedan, EQE SUV, EQS sedan, and EQS SUV. It knocks a second or less from the 0-60 mph time per model for $1,200 annually.
The Mercedes Online Store does not indicate whether the subscription is automatically renewed.
The future: buy your car and rent its seats and extra power
Automakers have been pointing out for several years now that the future of car buying will be very different than it is today.
Traditionally, car shoppers condition their new car when they purchase it. We choose which features to buy and decline, then pay a fixed price for the car, or take monthly payments that don’t fluctuate. Automakers often bundle features in packages—if you want premium stereo, you pay for a sunroof, too—to simplify their production process.
Related: Hyundai outlines the future of pay-as-you-go features
But today, automakers often take control of a car long after it leaves the factory. With many of today’s cars always connected to the internet, it has become possible for automakers to create features but lock them behind paywalls.
Many plan to use this fact to add new sources of income.
The end of options and packages…and paying for your car
They could, in theory, build every feature into every car that leaves the factory—dispensing with the idea of options and packages entirely.
Instead of charging a flat fee for heated seats, say, at the time of purchase, they’d make it a subscription instead.
The concept can work even with more horsepower. Many electric cars use software to control how much power the motors can produce. That could allow automakers to build gated levels of performance – as Mercedes apparently has.
Owners can add or delete a heated steering wheel, extra speakers, and even extra horsepower through a website or phone app. But they will charge a fee to use it.
This fee may be monthly. BMW has experimented with monthly payments for heated seats in some markets.
It may be annually, as in Mercedes’ electric horsepower increase.
May be shipped by mile. Volkswagen executives have considered launching self-driving programs that charge ticket prices based on where they want to take you.
Mercedes’ plan is the first we’ve seen in the States, though automakers have experimented with everything from heated seat subscriptions to advanced headlights for a monthly fee abroad.
Nobody wants this, but it’s good for automakers
Shoppers hate the idea. Our research shows that only 25% of drivers are open to it. But if most automakers switch to it, it might not matter.
The change may end the idea of paying off your car. You might pay back the balance of the loan you took out to buy it, but the monthly fee for the features won’t go away. This is bad news for your budget but great news for the company that rents you the car’s audio system and other features.
It could even mean that the automaker earns revenue on used cars. Right now, if you buy a used Chevrolet, Chevrolet doesn’t make a dime out of you. In the future of pay-as-you-go features, you might buy the car from your cousin but still have to pay monthly to use parts of it.
What Mercedes offers:
Mercedes owners can, at the moment, rent the following upgrades:
|Model||Performance boost||change acceleration||Recurring fee|
|Mercedes- EQ EQE 350 4MATIC||From 215 kW to 260 kW||from approx. 6.0 seconds is approximately 5.1 seconds||$1,200 a year|
|Mercedes- EQ EQE SUV 350 4MATIC||From 215 kW to 260 kW||from approx. 6.2 seconds approximately. 5.2 seconds||$1,200 a year|
|Mercedes- EQ EQS 450 4MATIC||From 265 kW to 330 kW||from approx. 5.3 seconds approximately. 4.5 seconds||$1,200 a year|
|Mercedes- EQ EQS SUV 450 4MATIC||From 265 kW to 330 kW||from approx. 5.8 seconds approximately. 4.9 seconds||$1,200 a year|