Volvo joins in charging customers for in-car software updates

The importance of software in cars is giving rise to a new business for automotive manufacturers.

We have said it many times, software is going to be something essential, fundamental and differentiating in the automotive sector and that makes manufacturers “sharpen their knives” to open a new line of income.

In recent weeks and months we have seen how Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Polestar have been launching their subscription services, a monthly or annual payment to obtain a feature in the vehicle, which despite the fact that the vehicle already has it, if you want to enjoy it you have to pay for the manufacturer to activate the option via software.

This is not really something new, as in the past many options that were paid for as extras when buying a car already came as standard in the car and only the manufacturer activated or deactivated it in the car’s own control unit. However, with software and remote updates this is taken to a greater extreme.

Perhaps the most worrying case was that of BMW, where you have to pay a monthly fee to have heated seats in your car. It is true that as a plus you only pay for this option for the months that you are going to use it (in winter), although it must be recognised that in the long run you will pay more for it.

Volvo also offers extra options to its customers

To the list of manufacturers that are outlining this line of business we now have to add Volvo, the Swedish brand is also looking for the option of generating extra income through software, although it has already advanced that it will not be as “aggressive” as seen in other brands, alluding to BMW.

Volvo Cars CFO Björn Annwall said in an interview with Bloomberg:

“If we’re going to charge for software updates, it has to be a radical change for the benefit of the consumer. We won’t ask people who bought a car for 1 million kronor (90,000 euros) to pay another 10 kronor (1 euro) for extra seat warmers”.

Honestly, it makes perfect sense, it seems unethical that a person who has spent a lot of money on a car then has to pay monthly fees for services or options that we would consider basic in vehicles of that category.

Annwall does not rule out the possibility that Volvo could charge its customers a certain amount of money for a major upgrade, an upgrade that represents a radical change for the user.

So we could say that Volvo will go for a payment when the software is a major change, we could say with new software versions.

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