Mercedes is the latest manufacturer to lock auto features behind a subscription fee, with an upcoming “Acceleration Increase” add-on that lets drivers pay to access motor performance their vehicle is already capable of.
The $1,200 yearly subscription improves performance by boosting output from the motors by 20–24 percent, increasing torque, and shaving around 0.8 to 0.9 seconds off 0–60 mph acceleration when in Dynamic drive mode (via The Drive). The subscription doesn’t come with any physical hardware upgrades — instead, it simply unlocks the full capabilities of the vehicle, indicating that Mercedes intentionally limited performance to later sell as an optional extra. Acceleration Increase is only available for the Mercedes-EQ EQE and Mercedes-EQ EQS electric car models.
Auto brands have started restricting built-in vehicle features to later sell as ongoing subscriptions
As global sales for new cars have fallen in recent years, car manufacturers have pivoted toward selling software updates and features as subscriptions to generate a continuous revenue stream long after a car has been purchased. While this makes sense for certain software-specific offerings (such as premium navigation features or remote vehicle monitoring), Mercedes paywalling its vehicle performance is part of an emerging, more loathsome trend that sees auto brands restricting the capabilities of hardware that already comes factory-equipped with the vehicle.
This comes just months after BMW sparked outrage by similarly charging an $18 monthly subscription in some countries for owners to use the heated seats already installed within its vehicles, just one of many features paywalled by the car manufacturer since 2020. BMW had previously also tried (and failed) to charge its customers $80 a year to access Apple CarPlay and Android Auto — features that other vehicle makers have included for free.
Correction November 23rd, 4:40PM ET: BMW’s CarPlay and Android Auto subscription was going to be $80 per year, not per month, as this story initially stated.