The advent of connected technologies and other high-tech systems has created a whole new avenue for businesses to make money.

Industries that previously only produced tangible products can now market the services for those products, and the more advanced the Internet-connected item, the greater the potential for service-related revenue.

The auto industry, of course, took notice. The era of over-the-air vehicle software updates is here, and automakers are exploring ways to use them to their advantage. For some people – like Ford – that means charging for custom software solutions, but for others there are obviously plenty of other features on the table.

Reports this week indicated that German luxury carmaker BMW is now charging drivers for access to equipment already installed in the vehicle, namely their heated seats.

In some countries – not the US, for now – owners will need to purchase a subscription for BMW’s software to unlock that little winter heat jolt. On a monthly basis, this will cost the equivalent of $18; they go up to $180 per year, $300 for three years, and $415 for “unlimited” access.

Without paying, the heating systems built into the seats will apparently remain inactive.

And the heated seats are not alone. The carmaker’s UK market, according to edgelists prices for a heated steering wheel (at $12 per month), recording footage from dash cams ($235 for “unlimited”) and, apparently, the ability to play engine sounds in the car for $117.

No word on the exact difference between the latter and just making “vroom” noises yourself.


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