Mercedes-Benz and Polestar are urging buyers of their electric cars to pay for more horsepower.
Both brands have recently introduced software updates that increase the performance of a paid car.
Tesla pioneered the use of software updates to unlock special features in its cars.
Mainstream automakers are following Tesla’s lead by offering performance upgrades via expensive software upgrades.
This week Polestar, the EV startup jointly owned by automaker Volvo and its Chinese parent company Geely, announced an over-the-air update that boosts power to the Polestar 2 in North America.
The update gives Polestar’s long-range dual-engine sedan an additional 68 horsepower, for a total of 476. Polestar said in a statement that this also cuts the car’s 0-60 mph time to 4.2 seconds.
The caveat is that the upgrade costs a one-time fee of $1,195. It’s the latest example of a growing trend of automakers choosing to charge customers for an upgrade after purchasing their vehicle.
As vehicles become increasingly computerized and connected to the Internet, automakers see huge potential in remotely changing a car’s capabilities or adding new ones and charging owners handsomely for doing so.
Luxury automaker Mercedes will soon offer a “throttle boost” feature for its EQS and EQE electric sedans and their SUV counterparts. Drivers who want a little more horsepower have to shell out $1,200 each year.
Tesla has pioneered remote software updates in cars and offers extra performance to owners of its Model 3 sedan and Model Y SUV who spend a couple thousand dollars.
Large software playback
Efforts to monetize software-enabled features go beyond performance upgrades. As automakers pour a total of $74 billion into software development through 2026 (according to automotive consultancy SBD Automotive), they are exploring new types of revenue. BMW, for example, allows owners to pay for heated seats or a heated steering wheel over time.
“I see the industry as a whole moving towards what they call functionality as a service,” SBD EV director Robert Fisher told Insider in October. “They’re trying to monetize these updates somehow.”
The big question is how shoppers are responding to the new trend. An April study by Cox Automotive found that 75% of US consumers are unwilling to subscribe to most vehicle features. “It still leaves a bad taste in the mouths of at least the American public,” said Fisher.
Read the original article on Business Insider