Would you pay a 'subscription' fee for features for your new car?

Photo (c) Skynesher - Getty Images

Some automakers think you would, but they may be wrong

You probably have a number of things you subscribe to -- Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney + -- and if you happen to be a certain age, maybe even a hold-in-your-hands newspaper or magazine.

But would you be willing to pay a monthly fee for something like heated seats in your car?

A study by Cox Automotive suggests that the industry may have bitten off more than it can chew.

While the study finds automakers think a “free trial” period for Features on Demand (FoD), as the concept is called, will entice buyers to consider such a plan, it also indicates that the cost of a new car which now averages about $50,000 may put the brakes on the scheme.

The shoppers' view

Three-quarters of those surveyed in the Cox study think the whole idea is a plan by car companies to make more money.

In fact, nearly 70 % said that if the only way they could get the features they want were through FoD, they'd look elsewhere.

But the reviews aren't all negative.

Some of those surveyed see it as a way to upgrade their vehicles and try new technology.

Others consider FoD as a way for them to try out features without making a long-term commitment.

Will it work?

Steve Birkett, the senior editor at FindTheBestCarPrice.com, says FoD "will be a minefield for automakers."

He says while it may yield new recurring revenue streams, some auto brands may be damaged along the way. "Look no further," he says, "than BMW's desire to charge customers for access to heated seats for evidence of that."

As to whether buyers will embrace or reject the concept from individual automakers, Birkett believes it will come down to two factors: selecting the right features for subscription and pricing them correctly.

For it to work, Birkett says automakers must introduce the concept carefully and put the customer in control of their subscription choices.

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