Can't Park Perpendicularly at the Mall? Time for a New Software Subscription, Says BMW

“The future is now, old man” is what I’m imagining a young Malcolm in the Middle fan who works as a Product Manager at BMW would say when someone disagrees with the subscription-based revenue strategy automakers want us all to partake in. But here are two reasons why this latest attempt at convincing us to spend more might be just a tad bit uninspired.
Self-Parking BMW i7 12 photos
Photo: BMW on YouTube / autoevolution edit
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It seems like every company out there has a secret plan to make prospective customers enroll in a monthly payment scheme that’s being introduced cautiously to not scare anyone about it. But in the automotive world, subscriptions are not something groundbreaking. People have been paying a monthly fee for various features like the remote engine start option which was moved from the key fob to a phone app.

However, the entire subscription saga has evolved quite hastily since all-electric vehicles became more popular. Tesla turned this strategy into an industry-wide trend after it successfully put behind a paywall some performance and technology options like the Acceleration Boost or the Enhanced Autopilot. Most recently, we learned that Mercedes-Benz started doing the same thing with its all-wheel-drive EQE, EQE SUV, EQS, and EQS SUV models.

But BMW can’t miss out on the potential revenue that can be brought by subscriptions, so it decided to go on this route as well. The brand made headlines around the world when it announced that heated seats were being put behind a monthly payment plan. But when we looked at what this meant exactly, we discovered that it wasn’t as bad as everyone thought it would be.

BMW ConnectedDrive Store
Photo: BMW on YouTube

Keeping an open mind

The strategy had the potential to allow the manufacturer to streamline production while keeping the used cars’ values at a maximum, thanks to having many of the optional features already on them. If someone from Florida were to sell a BMW to someone from Montana, for example, the possibility to unlock heated seats in a colder state in exchange for a fee would have been a great option. As long as the one-time payment remains on the table, this is not the worst thing automakers could do.

It’ll become a worrying thing if customers are forced to subscribe to enjoy these basic upgrades.

However, heated seats are not the only thing available in BMW’s digital shop, known as the “ConnectedDrive Store.” You can unlock a plethora of upgrades, which even include options like the Adaptive M Suspension.

In its attempt to promote the Parking Assistant Professional on Instagram, the German brand managed to confuse everyone a bit. First, because it chose to do so through the social media platform’s “Stories” section where photos and videos disappear after 24 hours and, secondly because it made it look like nobody from BMW knows how shopping at a mall works. Fortunately, we found the questionable ad on YouTube too, so you can watch it as well at the end of the article.

Self\-Parking BMW i7
Photo: BMW on YouTube
Two people appear in a sketch that’s supposed to prove you can go shopping with ease by driving the all-electric BMW i7 to a mall. As is expected almost anywhere in the world, they are faced with the challenge of finding a good parking spot.

Something iffy is going on

Lo and behold, they find one and must park perpendicularly. Mall parking lots are usually filled with cars and anxious drivers who are either tired or rushing to get home. In such a hectic environment, all you might want to do is leave the car in a designated place as fast as possible, and without attracting too much attention.

But not the driver and the passenger in this sketch! They both agree that it would be the perfect time to unlock some new advanced software for their vehicle. The protagonists choose to pay for the “Parking Assistant Professional Option” for an entire month while blocking two other parked cars and the free spot they identified. That’s… ambitious, to put it mildly.

In a real-life scenario, people would’ve started honking by the time they pressed “Yes” for the €52 ($55) software upgrade. The driver even says that a one-month subscription “should be enough” for that basic maneuver they had to execute.

But wait... there’s more! The pair even gets out of the luxurious sedan and allows the vehicle to do all the work while standing in the middle of the road. The driver had to keep a finger pressed on the dedicated phone app, an action that confirms a person is near the self-parking BMW. In case something goes wrong, the human can stop the luxurious battery-electric Bimmer in its tracks.

At the end of the day, wouldn't it have been a better idea to just learn how to park perpendicularly without relying on pricy software? Or, hear me out, they could have just selected the automated parking option when the vehicle was first specced. It costs just $1,250, as you'll see in the photo gallery!

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About the author: Florin Amariei
Florin Amariei profile photo

Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
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