Imagine spending R1 to 3 million on a shiny new electric vehicle (EV) and then having to pay an extra R20,590 ($1,200) annually to ‘unlock’ extra performance that is already there. And that’s before tax.
That’s what Mercedes-EQ customers are facing as the German automaker offers “acceleration increase” downloadable content (DLC) for its EQE and EQS vehicles.
What gives, Mercedes?
Charging extra for additional features is every automaker’s favourite pastime. But, as with BMW’s heated seat fiasco, the ‘upgrade’ doesn’t actually add anything new to your vehicle.
It simply provides access to what your already-paid-for vehicle is already capable of. Only you have to pay again for the privilege of accessing it. Mercedes is intentionally limiting its vehicles so it can rake in more money from customers that can afford an extra R20k each year.
For your money, the ‘feature’ slightly increases the torque and maximum power output of your EV. The specific increase depends on the vehicle. According to a report from The Drive, the Mercedes-EQ EQE 350 4MATIC sedan, for example, will see gains of an additional 61 horsepower, bringing the 0-100km/h time down from 6 seconds to 5.1. Talk about value for money.
When BMW tried this a few months ago, the manufacturer caught enough flak to warrant an official statement defending the subscription. As we said in that report, some subscription features make sense. Providing real-time traffic info as a service, for example, would require the company to either host the service themselves or pay a hosting provider. They’ll need to recover those costs so the extra monthly charge makes sense.
But what Mercedes is offering with its acceleration subscription is solely for the sake of squeezing more money out of its customers. The thing is, it’ll probably get away with it. If you’re paying between R40k and R60k every month for your car, an extra R1,800 won’t make much difference to you.
The EVs are still relatively new to the South African market so we were unable to determine if the subscription is available in the country, or if Mercedes plans to bring it here. Seeing as no new equipment is required, we don’t see why Mercedes would pass on the opportunity to score some easy money.