Is it a strong car company or an industry trend to pay for unlocking new functions?


Is it a strong car company or an industry trend to pay for unlocking new functions?

  Want the wheel steering angle to be larger, the seat to be heated automatically and the vehicle to be started remotely … … The functions that come with these cars don’t cost extra but can’t be used. Recently, the paid subscription function launched by several car companies has sparked heated discussions. Netizens spit out: Will the accelerator pedal and steering wheel also be paid for subscription in the future? I even questioned that this was arbitrary charges. What do car companies, industries and lawyers think about this?


  Mercedes-Benz remote start-up renewal fee is 898 yuan.

  "The validity period of your remote interconnection service is coming to an end. From now on, the highest discount for remote products is 400 yuan, and you can enjoy the three-year remote engine start with the original price of 1,298 yuan for only 898 yuan … …” Recently, some netizens broke the news that when his vehicle remote start function was about to expire, he received such a "preferential" message from Mercedes-Benz.

  The Beijing Youth Daily reporter noticed that this is not the first time that Mercedes-Benz has been exposed to the function of using vehicle configuration and needs to pay extra. Earlier, a Mercedes-Benz owner also received a short message reminding him that Mercedes-Benz’s brand-new high-tech customized navigation has been launched, and it can be upgraded in a 4S shop. It only takes "1998 yuan" in three years.

  In July, Mercedes-Benz launched the rear-wheel steering payment, and it is understood that the EQS 450++Pioneer version of Mercedes-Benz launched a "paid subscription" project. After paying 4,998 yuan, the owner can enjoy the rear-wheel steering function for one year. The active steering angle of the rear wheel of the vehicle will increase from 4.5 degrees to 10 degrees, and the turning radius will be reduced to 10.9 meters. For eligible models, a three-month free experience will be provided, and the functions that come with the vehicle will cost extra money to use. These operations have to make consumers suspect that they have been "cut with leeks".


  I will remind you before the three-year free period expires.

  Mercedes-Benz customer service said that the basic service will be free for three years after the remote interconnection service function is activated from the date of car purchase and invoice issuance, otherwise it will not be used, so the owner will receive the corresponding text message. The remote interconnection service has the functions of checking the vehicle status and remotely unlocking. This service is related to the model and configuration of the vehicle, some can be purchased separately, and some can’t.

  As for how to know in advance that you need to pay in order to use this function, the customer service said that in general, the owner is notified by SMS. "The Internet store will send a text message to remind that the service is about to expire. If this function is enabled, there will be a text message reminder when it is about to expire."

  The customer service also told the reporter of Beiqing Daily that it was not clear whether the subsequent charges for this service were stated in the car purchase contract. "This belongs to the sales process." Because you need real-name authentication to activate when you buy a car, it is through the system operation in the dealership, so there will be a reminder of payment when you activate it, which is usually informed by sales.

  She also suggested that car owners go to the store of Mercedes ME APP bound by real-name authentication to check the functions and use of the corresponding paid products. In "My Garage", you can see the basic services that the vehicle has been activated, such as the remote start that can be used for three years for free, and you will receive SMS reminders when it is about to expire.


  A number of car companies test water and pay subscriptions.

  According to public reports, as early as 2016, Tesla proposed software subscription services such as fully automatic driving and seat heating. All ex-factory models have embedded automatic driving hardware, and users can choose whether to turn on this function according to their needs. In 2021, autonomous driving will be officially launched at a monthly fee of $199 per month. By the end of the second quarter of 2022, more than 100,000 Tesla owners had used the fully automatic driving test version function in North America. It can be said that Tesla pioneered the mode of hardware embedded+paid activation software.

  According to its financial report, in 2021, Tesla’s services and other businesses, including autonomous driving software, achieved revenue of 3.802 billion US dollars, up 65% year-on-year, accounting for 7.06% of the total revenue. Software payment has gradually become an important part of Tesla’s revenue.

  Many car companies began to reproduce the business model of paid subscription system, and rose from software to hardware.

  BMW has pre-installed hardware in some vehicles when they leave the factory. Recently, it announced the launch of paid subscription services such as seat heating, steering wheel heating, CarPlay and safe assisted driving in countries such as South Korea, which also caused heated discussion. However, BMW’s paid projects currently only exist in overseas markets. It is understood that BMW once launched a project in China that cost money to choose CarPlay and had to subscribe again when it expired, but it ended up being cracked.

  In addition, domestic new car manufacturers Weilai and Tucki have also joined the ranks of offering paid subscriptions. However, at present, consumers generally hold a wait-and-see and even skeptical attitude towards the paid subscription services launched by car companies.


  Which is more cost-effective, paid subscription or single purchase?

  Regarding the problems behind car subscription payment, Chang Yan, who is certified as a well-known car blogger, said in a live broadcast entitled "Peeking into" Car Payment Subscription "that on the one hand, consumers are more accepting of software payment than hardware. For example, the rear wheel steering belongs to the hardware of the car, which is already in the car. If you have to spend money to use it, you will feel unreasonable. On the other hand, the services provided by paid subscriptions are relatively rudimentary and basic, and cannot be differentiated, and consumers will think that car companies are "cutting leeks".

  "In fact, consumers are willing to pay for autonomous driving, and they also bought hardware first. Then pay for the software. For example, Tesla, the self-driving chip actually paid the fee when buying a car. " He suggested that you can calculate an account for the paid function, and whether it is more economical to use it according to the subscription system than to buy it alone. For example, BMW recently launched a paid subscription package for seat heating, and the price is several hundred yuan per month. The buyout function needs 20 thousand yuan and can be used for about 100 months. In most parts of China, the use of the heated seat function means two or three months in winter, and even some areas are hot all the year round and do not need the heating function. If this is calculated, the subscription function may be more cost-effective.

  Chang Yan said that he personally prefers to pay for subscriptions, which can be stopped at any time. Try some functions before you decide whether you need to spend money to subscribe. If you don’t want to subscribe, you can turn it off.


  Crack hidden dangers of software for free.

  For paid subscriptions, many netizens are worried about whether the price will increase or whether members will have to spend money to become super VIP. Some people even said that in order to get free use, it is completely possible to crack the software.

  Cracking the car has long appeared, including Tesla. Chang Yan introduced that some were hacked and some were broken by some hardware. Although this may bring more playability and performance improvement, it will make the car worthless. Tesla officials will lock these up and no longer provide services and related warranties. Moreover, some cracks are irreversible, which may damage the battery and other hardware of the car, thus affecting the value of the car.

  Chang Yan also said that cars are related to our life safety. If they are cracked by unofficial institutions or third parties, there will be some security risks. If there is a problem and then go to the official repair, it will bring a lot of trouble, not worth the loss. For pricing, I believe the market will have a fair judgment, and with the development of the industry, it will gradually standardize.


  If clearly informed or agreed, it is difficult to identify infringement.

  Liu Bin, a lawyer of Beijing Zhongwen Law Firm, told the reporter of Beiqing Daily that from the current industry situation, there are two main ways to consume vehicle hardware: one is optional configuration, and the hardware configuration that consumers want is selected through prior agreement between consumers and manufacturers, and consumers make a one-time payment; The other is to subscribe to services in the form of subscription packages. With the further development of vehicle electronic functions, many car companies have launched such subscription services, such as active rear wheel steering, car entertainment, acceleration package and remote temperature control. Because there are a large number of electronic auxiliary functions in vehicles now, some car owners will not even use these functions after purchasing the vehicles, which can effectively reduce the cost of car purchase for car owners who do not use these functions frequently; For car owners who pay attention to these functions, they can purchase them selectively according to their needs. This subscription method increases consumers’ choice space, but this choice should be based on consumers’ right to know.

  Liu Bin believes that the subscription payment method is an option for the payment method of vehicle hardware. It is difficult to identify the damage to consumers’ right to know on the premise that the dealer clearly informs consumers of this payment method and content or there is a clear agreement in the contract signed by both parties. If we only charge consumers by subscribing to the service, it just changes the way of charging. If there are no unfair price behaviors such as manipulating market prices and raising prices in disguise, it is hard to say that this kind of charging method is arbitrary.

  If the services provided by car companies obviously violate the principle of fairness, it may infringe on consumers’ right to choose independently and fair trade. For example, a car company’s car entertainment service package subscription agreement stipulates: "We can change these terms at any time, change, add or delete the service or the functions contained therein, and also change the charging price of the service." This agreement expands the rights of car companies, exempts major obligations, and is suspected of infringing consumers’ right to fair trade and independent choice. This group/reporter Song Xia


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