Ford Authority

Ford CEO Jim Farley Dings BMW Over Heated Seat Subscription Model

It’s no secret that Ford CEO Jim Farley is a big proponent of connected vehicle services, which he believes could net the automaker $20 billion in annual revenue by 2030 via 32 million OTA capable vehicles by 2028. In fact, the automaker has spent the last year plus recruiting folks like former Apple exec Doug Fields for that very purpose, while also rolling out connected vehicle platforms and services for both retail and commercial applications. However, Farley is apparently only willing to go so far when it comes to what Ford charges customers for, as he took a shot at BMW recently for its new heated seat subscription model.

When asked about BMW’s heated seat subscription at the launch of the Ford F-150 Lightning and E-Transit at Sonoma Country Winegrowers yesterday, Farley said that he’d “be surprised if we charged for heated seats,” saying “I don’t think that’s our approach. There will be kind of customized software that you can pick and choose off a menu that would make sense for our commercial customers and retail customers. Maybe dynamic routing or coaching for the driver. I think there’ll be a subscription like we’re used to in content, but it will be customized based on the usefulness of the data.”

These comments are indeed interesting given the fact that automakers are currently working to figure out what sort of subscription services vehicle and fleet owners might be willing to pay for. Aside from BMW’s heated seat subscription plan, Toyota recently batted around the idea of making its key fob-activated remote start function a monthly subscription service as well.

2021 BMW M3 and M4 Competition

For its part, Ford has thus far rolled out a number of complimentary services, including all features present in the ever-popular FordPass and Lincoln Way apps, such as dealer pickup and delivery, as well as some complimentary services and three-year free trials for other services for fleet owners via Ford Pro. Ford’s new commercial business also recently rolled out the Ford VIIZR Service Tool, which is designed to help companies maximize productivity and customer service, with subscriptions starting out at $39 a month per user.

We’ll have more on Ford’s connected vehicle services soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for 24/7 Ford news coverage.

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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    I can’t stand subscriptions – seems to me that they’re usually geared toward giving you more than you need, for a price that’s usually more than is reasonable and necessary for the original desired item. If I want heated seats, (which I now buy aftermarket for a fraction of the price I would have been forced to pay for a factory package upgrade) I’ll have them installed myself. Sorry – this subscription mumbo-jumbo just sounds like another gimmick to increase profits.

  2. Chris Blanchard

    This could get out of hand. It is physically possible to run just about every creature comfort thru a data link: heat/cool seats, AM/FM access, maps/GPS, memory seats, auto dim mirror, terrain management, off-road cruise control, most any feature that is free now with direct access.
    The OEMs could build the vehicle with all the optional hardware installed,and make their money by controlling acess to them thru subscription packages.

    1. Robert A.

      Advanced computer hackers would have a field day cracking all the codes for the various control systems, and then turning around and selling the passwords for the various services, to the owners, or, better yet, visiting a car owner’s house and secretly inputting the password overrides for all hidden and unsubscribed features of a new car or truck, for a fee, of, say, $5,000. One could buy or lease the basic stripper model, and, through a hacker, get all the optional features turned on for way less that what the manufacturer would charge.

  3. Ed Newman

    Subscriptions make sense for something that has an ongoing development and upgrade cycle like GPS maps. It does not make sense for hardware like heated seats.

  4. Robert A.

    What’s next, a subscription to use the windshield wipers – 25 cents for 500 swipes, or an equivalent amount to drop the driver’s door window when visiting McDonald’s drive-through window?

  5. J

    In-vehicle subscription are beginning to pop up through the automotive industry. Major automakers including BMW, Toyota, Ford, GM, Rivian and Volkswagen Group all have plan in place to implement in-car subscriptions. It is entirely one thing for certain apps or services, such as WIFI Hotspot, but beyond that, subscriptions within a vehicle are not vehicle ownership. Many manufacturers have plans to implement subscriptions for items you already pay extra for up front. BMW has its sights set on features like heated seats and M brand performance suspension tuning. At this point, it is out of hand. It is your vehicle, and heated seats or a performance suspension do not require constant updates or anything else once installed. Another thing? The software to implement these subscriptions are going to increase the up-front cost. As for things like navigation and safety or driver assist technology, think of it as buying a laptop. You now own the laptop, without having to pay a subscription. Internet and repairs on that laptop would be like the gas and maintenance on your car. Adding the subscriptions for in-car features is like having to pay monthly for the use of Microsoft Word, which just so happens to be already built in. It is like being charged every time you open the application. Whether or not these subscriptions will be a permanent thing that is yet to be seen. If clients pay for these subscriptions, they will stay. However, judging from the negative input as to these services from the public, all we have left to do is hope that they do not stick.


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