Volvo will limit software subscriptions to major upgrades

To increase sales, some automakers have started offering subscription-based features. Once the subscription is complete, owners can usually unlock the features through software using an app.

Recently, Mercedes-Benz began offering US owners of certain EQ-badged electric vehicles a $1,200 annual subscription to unlock maximum performance. BMW has even made features like heated seats available on subscription in some markets.

Volvo, which pioneered a subscription model as an alternative to buying or leasing a car, is also considering subscriptions for features, but only for essential items.

The information was confirmed by Volvo COO Bjorn Annwall in an interview with Bloomberg published last week.

“If you’re charging for software updates, there has to be a significant shift in consumer value,” he said.

Annwall gave the example of a self-driving mode as the kind of feature Volvo can charge a subscription for. Volvo has already announced a self-driving feature called Ride Pilot, which will enable true hands-free, eyes-free driving on certain highways. The timing for Ride Pilot is not clear, although the first market has been confirmed as California.

Not everyone is thrilled with the idea of ​​features requiring a subscription, especially when they’re already built into the vehicle and just require software to unlock them. Two members of the New Jersey General Assembly, Paul Moriarty and Joe Danielsen, introduced Bill No. 4519 in September aimed at making it illegal for automakers and dealerships to sell subscriptions to features that use hardware built at the time of the purchase is already installed in the vehicle.

However, the bill leaves a caveat for features that require ongoing costs for the automaker, dealer, or third party, such as B. Content streaming services and newer self-driving technologies that are updated over time, for example with new features or greater map coverage.