Mercedes-Benz offers improved acceleration in some electric models for annual $1,200 fee, as carmakers target digital after-sales
Mercedes-Benz is to offer a subscription service to unlock improved acceleration in its electric vehicles, tapping into a microtransaction business model pioneered in the video game world and brought to the automotive industry by Tesla.
Mercedes said users in the US would be able to pay $1,200 (£991) per year, excluding tax, to enable some electric vehicles to accelerate from 0-60 mph a second faster.
The feature, which has not yet gone live, would deactivate after a year if users declined to pay the recurring fee.
Mercedes’ move follows a backlash against BMW earlier this year, which offered a subscription of $18 (£15) per month in some countries to unlock heated seats and steering wheels – features already built into the vehicle’s hardware.
BMW was forced to clarify that the offering would not affect vehicles that had been sold with heated seats already permanently activated. It went ahead with the subscription plan in spite of users’ anger.
Mercedes has said it does not currently plan to offer the “Acceleration Increase” in the UK.
The company is offering the function on some of its flagship EQS sedan and EQS SUVs as well as some EQE sedan and EQE SUV models. All are electric vehicles.
“Fine tuning of the electric motors increases the maximum motor output of your Mercedes-EQ by 20 to 24 percent,” Mercedes said on the landing page for the Acceleration Increase subscription feature.
“The torque is also increased, enabling your vehicle to accelerate noticeably faster and more powerfully.”
It said the EQE 350 SUV could accelerate from 0-60 mph in about 5.2 seconds with the feature turned on, compared to 6.2 seconds without it.
Mercedes’ website says the feature is “coming soon” but lists no date for its debut.
Tesla began offering an “Acceleration Boost” feature in 2019 that improves Model 3 acceleration by a half-second, for a one-off fee of $2,000.
Carmakers are betting on after-sales digital features turning into a substantial source of income, as has become the case in the gaming industry, with BMW saying it expecte 5 billion euros (£4.3bn) in income from them this decade, while Stellantis is targeting 20bn euros in extra revenue from software-driven features by the end of the decade.