Mercedes-Benz is introducing a new ‘acceleration allowance’ to make some cars faster

Imagine buying a product at full price and then having to pay annually for one of its key components to operate at full capacity. That’s exactly what Mercedes-Benz does with its customers in the US, who have to pay an annual subscription fee to accelerate the company’s electric vehicles faster.

According to a report from the BBC, Mercedes has confirmed that it will charge users a sum of $1,200 (approximately Rs 97,878) every year to make its cars faster. The allowance would allow users to accelerate faster and reduce the time it takes the car to go from 0 to 100 km/h by one second. With this function, the Mercedes-Benz EQ EQE 350 and EQS 450 accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 5.2 seconds instead of 6.2 seconds. Mercedes has not announced when the feature will go live.

This isn’t the first time automakers have implemented software-based feature locks unless users pay an extra fee. As the report notes, automaker BMW has also introduced a subscription model for heated seats in its car. Meanwhile, Toyota announced it would charge customers $8 (approximately Rs 652) per month to enable a feature that allows them to start their car remotely without a key. Elon Musk’s Tesla also has a one-time paid feature for the Model 3 since 2019 that allows the car to accelerate half a second faster.

The one thing all of these automaker decisions have in common is that they are all software blocks for capabilities that the car is otherwise already capable of.

What are these new subscription models?

Subscription models aren’t that bad. There are services where the subscription model is necessary. When you pay a monthly fee for your phone service, you pay for the maintenance of all cell towers and other components involved in keeping the network up and running. Similarly, when you pay for Netflix or any other OTT platform, you pay for the continuous creation and addition (or both) of new content. The same logic works for your gas bill, water bill, and other subscription models you’ve probably been a part of for years.

However, features such as faster acceleration and heated seats are made possible through the addition or software modification of specific components already in the car. When you buy the car, you have already paid for the mentioned part and therefore for the functions that come with it.

Since the components used in the car to provide heated seats and higher speeds are a one-time addition from the company, it’s unfair that customers have to pay extra money. Many people have spoken out against Mercedes’ “function” and consumer backlash to a subscription model over what one-time purchases should be has also been mounting since the move.

A bill in New Jersey, US, is already seeking to ban car service subscriptions that rely on hardware that is already part of the vehicle at the time of purchase. While not yet passed into law, the fact that such a bill exists does show that people are unhappy with the subscription business model coming to cars.

Leave a Comment