Tesla Prepares To Turn Heated Front Seats and Wipers Into Paid Features

Tesla's 2023.38.8 software update brings surprising changes for the 2024 model-year EVs. Among them are support for electronic toll devices, improved driver assistance systems, and paid heated front seats and wipers. The latter is already causing uproar on social media, as people remember BMW's failed attempt to charge a subscription for heated seats.
Heated seats will become a paid option for Tesla customers 6 photos
Photo: @tesla_adri, Tesla via X
Heated seats will become a paid option for Tesla customersHeated seats will become a paid option for Tesla customersHeated seats will become a paid option for Tesla customersHeated seats will become a paid option for Tesla customersHeated seats will become a paid option for Tesla customers
Software-defined vehicles are all the rage, allowing carmakers to tailor the ownership experience and offer more feature granularity. It also introduced the concept of subscriptions for various features that can be enabled or disabled in software. The idea was taken too far by legacy carmakers, desperate to find additional revenue streams. Toyota tried to charge its customers for using the keyfob remote even for actions that don't require server support, while BMW went even further.

The German carmaker will probably remain in the automotive history for annoying its customers the most. In the summer of 2019, BMW introduced paid CarPlay subscriptions, something that all other carmakers offered for free to its customers. After pointing out that Apple doesn't charge BMW anything for this feature, BMW customers won a victory when the Germans tossed the plan by December of the same year.

You'd think they learned their lesson, but they didn't. Anyone can make an honest mistake, but repeating the same mistake requires German stubbornness. In July 2022, BMW introduced heated seat subscription plans, sparking outrage among its user base. This remained in the collective memory, but BMW also wanted to charge for the heated steering wheel, camera recording, and even for fake exhaust sounds played through the multimedia system. As you can imagine, BMW dropped the heated seat subscription, although later than expected, in September 2023.

It's probably safe to assume by now that customers hate paying for something that their vehicles already have. Unless they are Tesla customers, of course. The EV maker already charges extra for heated rear seats in its entry-level models. You can activate them anytime for a one-time fee of $300, as long as your Tesla has them built in from the factory. On the other hand, heated front seats were offered as standard on all Tesla EVs. This is also true for the heated wipers added to the Model 3 and Model Y last year.

This might not be the case going forward, as the latest software update hints. According to ethical hacker Green (@greentheonly), the 2023.38.8 software build indicates that the heated front seats and wipers will soon become paid features for new vehicles. It's unclear whether this is for all 2024 base models or only those sold in specific markets.

Tesla might have chosen to drop the standard convenience features from the most affordable models to lower the base price even more. This way, they can become eligible for state subsidies in certain countries. Owners can activate the missing features after delivery by paying the corresponding fee.

Alongside this change, Green also discovered that the Model Y RWD has its range software limited to 260 miles. This implies that the battery pack is not different from the one in the Long Range variant, presumably to comply with the new IRA tax credit conditions that enter into effect next year. The software also shows that Tesla might integrate an electronic toll device, as the user interface has been updated to allow controlling it.

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About the author: Cristian Agatie
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After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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