Microtransactions: Mercedes makes EQ models faster with a subscription


The future of the automotive industry is digital and electric. Vehicle suppliers are therefore orienting themselves more closely towards the tech industry, now also with regard to the sales model: cars are becoming platforms for further sales. If you want more power in an EQ from Mercedes, you can pay 1,200 US dollars for it – thanks to a subscription per year.

For the EQE, which costs at least 66,400 euros and is said to be the E variant of an E-Class, as well as the equivalent of the S-Class (EQS), which starts at around 109,500 euros, Mercedes offers an “Acceleration Increase” in its own shop in the USA. For a price of 1,200 US dollars per year plus taxes, or around 1,370 euros including sales tax, subscribers get more torque and performance in their vehicle.

The performance increases between 20 and 24 percent. In the basic EQE 350 model, this means an increase from 215 to 260 kW, which would be an intermediate step to the next higher performance level in the series. With the EQS 450, the output can be increased from 265 to 330 kW, which corresponds to the next most powerful engine.

Mercedes advertises that this is a noticeable advantage: “Acceleration that you can feel” says the product page, because it takes 0 to 60 miles to sprint 0.8 to 1.0 seconds less after purchasing the subscription upgrade.

Mercedes not alone, but most expensive

< p class="p text-width">It is not clear from the description why Mercedes charges a monthly fee for something that only changes software parameters and apparently activates existing performance reserves, i.e. is neither individually coordinated nor observed live. It seems particularly worthy of criticism that this purchase option is offered to customers in the most expensive vehicle classes, whose basic price increases significantly further due to a thicket of equipment variants with mutual dependencies and many options that appear essential but are elevated to extras.

However, the calculation should be different: If you spend so much money, such a sum is no longer of great importance in relation. Mercedes is far from alone with this attitude: equipping cars with microtransactions and subscription models that unlock existing hardware is being pushed across the board. Mercedes just wants to dig into their wallets the most so far. Tesla, for example, offers the autopilot as a subscription, while BMW sells access to the seat heating as a subscription, which starts at 17 euros a month but also includes an unlimited option.

Problems in the future

Basically, such offers ask for money for already sold and existing hardware, i.e. a kind of artificial gating is operated. One can only hope that these ideas will not spill back into the tech market and that offers like “100 MHz multi-clock for 10 euros a month” will soon appear. In addition, the question arises as to the extent to which such systems are sustainable and future-proof if they depend on the functioning of servers and protocols that may become obsolete or are deemed unprofitable to operate – they pose the risk, to a slight exaggeration, of losing access to property dependent on the goodwill of a company. Video gamers can sing a song about it.