Over-the-air updates can help keep your EV feeling fresh, but they can also be used to download at-cost upgrades.
Let’s go ahead and picture the scene, shall we? You put your name down for a brand-new Mercedes-Benz EQE 350 sedan and shell out at least $75,050 to drive one off the lot. But wait! Do you want the opportunity to “unleash enhanced performance for your car”? You’ll soon be able to do it and it won’t even require any hardware upgrades. Up to one second off the 0-60 time and a 20-24% maximum power boost are only an over-the-air update away. The catch — I’m sure you can spot it a mile away — is that you have to pay $1,200 to “unlock” the capability.
Oh, and it’s a subscription. As in, $1,200 per year. Mercedes’ EQ electric models will be able to download a power upgrade, if you cough up the cash through this webpage. According to the consumer website, it adjusts the electric motors’ power curve and offers up the extra grunt through all the “Dynamic Select” drive modes. How much extra power you get depends on the model:
|Model||Stock output (hp, kW)||Upgraded output (hp, kW)||Stock 0-60 time||Upgraded 0-60 time|
|EQE 350 4Matic||288 hp (215 kW)||348 hp (260 kW)||6.0 seconds||5.1 seconds|
|EQE SUV 350 4Matic||288 hp (215 kW)||348 hp (260 kW)||6.2 seconds||5.2 seconds|
|EQS 450 4Matic||355 hp (265 kW)||442 hp (330 kW)||5.3 seconds||4.5 seconds|
|EQS SUV 450 4Matic||355 hp (265 kW)||442 hp (330 kW)||5.8 seconds||4.9 seconds|
Would you be upset if you got more power at a higher price in the first place?
When you spend a major chunk of money on a new vehicle, you expect it to come with the best possible specs for that price band. However, more automakers seem to be jumping onto the subscription/live service bandwagon, putting popular features behind paywalls. That ensures a continuous stream of revenue from each customer, but buyers don’t usually sit well with the knowledge that the hardware is capable of those added features. You just have to pay extra for them.
Mercedes-Benz is certainly not the first to do this — Tesla brought in that idea a few years ago with the Model 3. Nor will the German automaker be the last, as this is an increasingly common order of business, particularly with EVs.
On a side note, though, would folks be more upset if they had to pay a fixed amount (say $3,600) to unlock the added power in the first place? Mercedes would still get the same amount of money, but it would just be up front at the point of sale. On the other hand, would you more easily accept the option to unsubscribe from the feature, or not opt into it at all if you don’t need the extra grunt?
I don’t necessarily have the answer to that question, but let me know your thoughts on the matter.