There’s always that moment during a chase scene in a movie where the driver presses some red turbo button to get away. That scene might be a bit lamer if instead of pressing a button to get more speed, they’re entering their credit card information on a website.
Mercedes is joining the emerging, potentially aggravating trend of charging a subscription fee for features the car already has. A $1,200 yearly subscription grants customers access to an “Acceleration Increase” that opens up the full performance potential on new Mercedes EQ electric models, giving an increase in maximum horsepower, torque, and overall performance.
This includes the acceleration from 0-60 mph improving by 0.8 to 1.0 seconds, as well as gaining increased output from the motors by 20-24 percent. One wonders if the car suddenly gets slower again if your credit card doesn’t go through in a year.
To be clear, this is not a physical upgrade to the hardware. You don’t need to take the car to a a Mercedes dealer mechanic and nor does it physically change before your eyes like Optimus Prime. It functions more like the premium mode on a streaming service, or first class on a plane, except it’s your own car.
That obviously implies that Mercedes purposely released the car with this limited performance so they could upsell customers with the add-on later. BMW got into a slight pr hullabaloo a few months ago after charging an $18 monthly subscription in some countries for extra features, including already installed heated seats. It’s fun to imagine someone buying a BMW, and yet not forking over the $18 so their bum can be warm.
Drivers are used to paying subscription fees for upgrades related to areas like navigation and security. But using one to unlock basic hardware capabilities that the car is trying to hide from you is new, potentially irritating territory.
It’s only a matter of time before people figure out how to steal extra speed and warmer rears the way they used to steal cable.