Subscribe Me Not

THE DRIVING SEASON IS BLASTING PAST, as our mid-season August event approaches. This is the one we’ve been looking forward to, because we finally get to refill the green run group with some enthusiastic new participants. Our new IDE (Introduction to Driver Education) program is fully formed and we are confident that we can introduce new, safe and knowledgeable students to the joys of track driving.

It’s going to be difficult to match the success of our July event. Not only did the weather cooperate, but a crowd of 45 people joined us Saturday evening for our annual track walk. The response was great to see, and most commented that the experience helped their driving the next day.

Speaking of our new IDE program, I’m pleased to mention that each of the people who signed up for the August IDE also signed up for the September and October events as well. These enthusiastic drivers will not only fill the green run group for the second half of the season, but they will have enough seat time for advancement. That will keep the program moving and open up space for another IDE in May of 2023. Now that we’ve worked the bugs out, I wish we had done this a long time ago. The only purpose of IDE is to prepare our membership for the DE program and it’s apparent that it will serve its purpose.

I’ve always wondered what the future of the automobile might be. Some claim it’s electric, even though that isn’t proving to be too ecologically sound. I’ve always hoped for hydrogen due to its abundance and the lack of waste products, but extracting the hydrogen is very inefficient at this juncture. There is one thing that’s for certain though, everyone is going to try and profit as much as possible. I say that because BMW has introduced subscriptions for heated seats and steering wheels in England.

BMW has introduced subscriptions for heated seats and steering wheels in England. You read that right.

You read that right. What had been a rumor from the mill over the last couple of years is really happening. BMW will now include all the equipment for heated seats and steering wheels in every car it produces and offers to let you subscribe to them for a monthly fee. At this point you can still pay extra and purchase their use outright, but BMW sees immense profit in the subscription model. The seats are just the opening salvo. If successful, it can start to offer subscriptions for everything from remote start to power windows. If BMW is successful in this model you can bet that other manufacturers will climb onto the bandwagon and customers will be nothing more than cash cows. If you don’t want to pay, they won’t activate the options and if you stop paying, they can turn them off. Isn’t connectivity wonderful?

I know this will come as a surprise but I’m going to tell you what I think of all this. In order for BMW to turn these options on and off at will, they will be included in every vehicle. That means the “optional” equipment is part of the cost of manufacturing the car and it’s passed on to everyone who buys one of the cars. They don’t just collect if you want it, they have already charged you for it in your purchase price. Since you already paid for the installed equipment, they are really just charging a monthly subscription fee to activate it. Since you own the equipment, their entire costs are just the administration of the program. Conversely, they are denying you the use of the equipment you bought and paid for if you don’t cough up the extra dough.

While I don’t think that the future will bring subscriptions for safety equipment like brakes, I do think if this scheme works, they will look for more ways to generate revenue from vehicles they have already sold. They will probably have to rewrite their sales contracts in order to deny you their use without additional payment, so it’s up to the consumer to refuse those terms. Otherwise you will never really own your car.

I’ve read about self-financing dealerships in the States adding electronic switches on the starter circuit, so if a customer is in default of their loan the dealer can prevent the car from starting. They claim that it isn’t a safety issue as the car doesn’t turn off while in use, it simply doesn’t restart after being parked. That backfired when one of those stop-start-equipped cars turned itself off at a long red light and was then stranded in the intersection during rush hour.

The only recourse that the automotive consumer has against this nonsense is just to refuse to participate. I’m secretly hoping that BMW’s sales tank as a result of its greed, otherwise most of the other manufacturers will follow suit. Who knows where that will end? Maybe someday you can subscribe to some windshield wipers.

I hope everyone is signed up for the September DE. After the heat of the summer, it’s always a pleasant time to work on your skills without working up a sweat. Engines make more horsepower, and brakes and tires get some reprieve. So far our events have been COVID-free and everyone appreciates having the support of in-car instruction. I hope you are all enjoying this driving season as much as I am. </>

More Great Articles


Popular stories

  • No products in the cart.