Owning a vehicle is good, and owning one with lots of extra convenience and technology features that add to the driving experience is even better. We're all used to choosing convenience options for our cars like heated seats, cruise control, and remote keyless entry, and usually these features come with the vehicle. We're also used to paying for these features once, with our initial purchase. However, all of this may change shortly, as these additional features may come with an ongoing subscription service fee to use.

Comfort features in cars

There are many features you can get in cars that add convenience to the experience of owning a car. Optional features that can be added include comfort and convenience features such as front and rear heated seats, remote vehicle locking and unlocking, automatic high beams, cruise control and Apple CarPlay.

Traditionally, automakers add these options to the MSRP. So when buyers purchase the vehicle from a dealership or a third party, these features are built-in and come with the asking price. However, in light of new over-the-air software updates and increased internet connectivity in cars, trucks and SUVs, automakers tend to force customers to pay monthly for these once free services.

Will automakers switch to subscription services?

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According to Business Insider, automakers could earn billions from the shift to subscription-based convenience services. Unsurprisingly, the idea is much less popular with consumers. The benefits for automakers are many, including a steady new revenue stream that continues years after the initial purchase. The practice also binds buyers into a long-term relationship with the brand.

Another benefit is more streamlined manufacturing, with cars featuring the same specifications. Desired features could be added individually down the road. The downsides are mostly for buyers, who will likely feel like they're now paying regularly for services that previously came with the vehicle. It remains to be seen how much drivers would be willing to shell out monthly.

Over-the-air software updates were introduced by Tesla and are now becoming commonplace. This allows car manufacturers to add new services, deactivate services and modify your vehicle from any distance. Remote installation of features is becoming a reality as today's cars, trucks and SUVs are more connected than ever, with fully computerized systems.

Subscription services and features are already here

Some automakers have already introduced subscription-based services, with mixed results. Ford and General Motors have taken the plunge with subscriptions for hands-free driving on the highway. Last year, BMW offered paid monthly heated seats, heated steering wheels and automatic high beams on some models. Lexus and Toyota have also tried the same, offering remote start as a service.

Everything will depend on what the market will bear. According to Business Insider, BMW scrapped its plan in 2019 to charge customers $80 a year for Apple CarPlay due to immense backlash. Some buyers may like the idea of ​​only choosing the exact features they want and having continuous live updates for their services. Others won't like the idea of ​​having ongoing payment for a once-free service or accessory.

Soon, automakers are hoping to earn big revenue from these services, despite their already high profit margin. If implemented, Ford, GM and Stellantis envision an additional $20 billion by 2030 from software services of all kinds. People can accept that because they're used to paying subscriptions for just about everything these days, from movie streaming services to meal subscriptions delivered to homes.