We have seen various pricing models in the software industry in the past couple of decades, including free, freemium, and premium. Each has its own pros and cons. However, these pricing models haven't really penetrated the hardware market in the same way. That said, things are now changing, at least in the automotive industry, with manufacturers charging a premium to use built-in features.
The luxury automotive brand has revealed a costly subscription plan for its Mercedes-EQ EQE 350 and EQS 450 cars and SUVs. Customers can opt to purchase an "Acceleration Increase" subscription priced at $1200/year (exclusive of taxes) from its online U.S. store. The purchase will allow their car to accelerate 20-24% faster when going from 0-60 miles per hour (0-97 kilometers per hour). Basically, a Mercedes-EQ 350 SUV will hit 60mph in around 5.2 seconds instead of 6.2 seconds, other models will see similar gains.
This is being done by electronically boosting the motor's output and the torque but it raises some concerns because it implies that the car already has the necessary capability built-in to achieve this performance and the sole reason to lock it behind a paywall is to make customers pay more.
This isn't the first time something like this has been done. Back in July, BMW started selling subscriptions for heated seats at $18/month. Similarly, last year, Toyota revealed a $8/month plan to remotely start its cars using a key fob.
The automotive industry racing towards a microtransaction-heavy pricing model probably isn't desirable for most customers. It remains to be seen how successful the business model eventually turns out to be. For now, Mercedes-Benz does not plan to expand the Acceleration Increase subscription to the UK.