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Hyundai working on paid subscription features as BMW pay-per-month heated seats court controversy


Mechanical and technological feature subscriptions are on the table at Hyundai Motor Company, a senior executive says

Hyundai is considering adopting a subscription-based model for “technologically-based features” in its future car models according to Hyundai Motor Company (HMC) global chief marketing officer Thomas Schemera.

Speaking with Australian motoring media at the reveal of the Hyundai Ioniq 6 electric sedan, Schemera said that while paid subscription services were under consideration, the key question was whether they were mechanical or technological features.

Hyundai is considering introducing a subscription service for select features

Schemera says Hyundai has been working on a subscription model “for years”. Hyundai’s position is that it currently prefers the idea of adding tech features by subscription to adding access to mechanical hardware by subscription – though neither approach is off the table.

Enabling mechanical features by subscription is presently in the news as a result of BMW’s decision to pilot subscriptions to mechanical parts like heated seats and a heated steering wheel in the South Korean market for around $25 per month apiece.

Also on the hardware side, rival German brand Mercedes-Benz installs four-wheel steering hardware on its EQS sedan but sells access to this feature as a circa-$700 per year subscription in Europe.

“Whether [a subscription is for] technologically-based features or mechanical-based features – that’s really the key point of discussion at the moment,” Schemera said.

Features like heated seats could cost buyers around $25 a month

Schemera indicated that Hyundai was mainly interested in technological features as a subscription – an area which could include enabling new apps for infotainment to use while charging, like Netflix or gaming.

However, it is a case of “never say never”, Schemera says, to enabling future mechanical hardware features like four-wheel steering via paid, over-the-air subscriptions.

The company is bullish on subscriptions for tech features, with Schemera telling motoring media that “technological” services “absolutely” have the potential to be offered as a subscription.

It remains to be seen if a subscription-style model comes to the Australian market

This could also include tech changes like improving the logic of features like automatic and adaptive headlights, or increasing the power from electric car motors over the air – a paid feature already available for owners of the Polestar 2 EV in Australia.

“We have been working on this for years,” Schemera said. “We haven’t had the chance to sort it all, so I cannot disclose so many things – but you may rest assured that the next technological step will be a big one.”

Hyundai will technically commence a subscription-based feature program in Australia with the release of the facelifted 2023 Palisade.

The refreshed large SUV includes a complimentary five year subscription to Hyundai’s Bluelink connected services suite and smartphone app – but after the five year window runs out, the owner must pay for continued access.

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