Mercedes is adopting the trend of charging a subscription to unlock a feature the car already comes equipped with. In this case, it’s the option to improve engine output by about 20%, allowing for faster acceleration – an upgrade that costs $1200 a year.
Notably, this is not a hardware upgrade, which is why the offer is controversial. The car is already capable of achieving the faster acceleration they’re selling, but there’s a software lock that prevents the vehicle from performing that well unless you pay the extra annual fee.
Even worse, there doesn’t seem to be an option to unlock this feature permanently.
The Acceleration Increase feature on the official Mercedes website states that this upgrade shortens the time to from 0 to 60 MPH by around 0.8 seconds. In some vehicles that accept this upgrade, this means that instead of taking 6 seconds to reach 60 MPH, it can do so in about seconds.
The full explanation is as follows:
Fine-tuning the electric motors increases the maximum motor output (kW) of your Mercedes-EQ by 20 to 24%, depending on the original output from the factory. The torque is also increased, enabling your vehicle to accelerate noticeably faster and more powerfully. This shortens the time it takes to accelerate from 0 to 60 MPH by around 0.8 to 0.9 seconds. This additional output is available in all DYNAMIC SELECT drive programs. (Source: Mercedes)
It’s a considerable upgrade, but once again, it’s very controversial since the car comes fully equipped from the factory to achieve the upgrade Mercedes is selling. In short, they’re removing the car’s full capabilities from the consumer so they can sell the upgrade.
We’ve seen the excuse behind a move like this before: car manufacturers say that vehicles are too expensive to make and this allows consumers to buy a cheaper car if they don’t care about its more advanced features while allowing the option to pay more for the full package.
BMW did something similar earlier this year when they offered a subscription service for heated seats. Despite it being equally coy, BMW did offer the option to pay for the subscription monthly or a one-time fee to unlock it forever, which Mercedes does not offer – you can only subscribe annually with no clear way to keep the upgrade forever if you so choose.
The upgrade that made the headlines for BMW was the option to pay $18 a month for heated seats, to which the official website explained “the hardware for this feature has already been installed in your vehicle during production, at no extra cost.” Car owners haven’t really softened to the idea of buying a car that’s fully capable of advanced features that have to be unlocked separately for extra fees – especially when the hardware is already installed from the start.
Car manufacturers looking for ways to earn consistent revenue after the car has been purchased is not surprising, and surely many wouldn’t mind it if the unlocks were related to software-only capabilities, such as advanced navigation features, traffic information, and remote functions – all of which Mercedes also provides for extra fees.
But handicapping the car you bought out of the factory so that you pay an extra $1200 a year if you want it to perform as it should is a bit much.