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Friday Mailbag: Stop worrying about BMW subscriptions

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Another Friday? Just a few left in 2022, and this week I see you have chosen violence over BMW subscriptions. So be it.


Mike, curious about your take on BMW’s subscription services? I’ve heard a lot of things. They will eventually move almost everything over to a subscription service, so does that mean all the cars will be built the same way? I think it’s a money grab and a scam from a company that already charges a lot for their cars, especially M cars.

– Kim


Kim, you’re not the only person to ask me about these subscription services. To be fair, when you have a car that costs upwards of $70,000, charging $18 a month to keep your tushy warm might seem like BMW is nickle and diming you to death.

But unless you purchase your cars outright, we’re already working with a subscription-based service, and it’s called leasing and financing.

Don’t worry, tons of things are still going to work.

Shop till you stop

When it’s time for a new car, I’m hoping everyone that reads this worries first and foremost about the sticker price. After that, you have financing rates or lease residuals depending on what you plan on doing.

In the end, you have a monthly payment. Pay that amount for 3-5 years, and you own the car (or give it back for a new one). Budgets are flexible to a degree, right? $20 bucks more a month is usually ok, but maybe not $200. Point is, the monthly payment is the number we’re usually concerned with, more so than the final price of the car.

But the MSRP is a pretend number. Hell, it says “suggested” right there anyway. Substitute “suggested” for “pretend”, and you’ll get the idea. MPRP.

Think of some fun stuff – pick your own headlight colors for a monthly fee.

BMW subscriptions are cool with me

90%. That’s the amount of us that choose the “heated seat” option on a new BMW. They might as well just make it standard across the board and raise the base price of the car by $500, which is what that option costs.

“Mike, once I pay for a car, I own it, and all the features inside of it.”

Yes, you do. But let me throw another percentage at you – 77. That’s the amount of BMW owners that lease their car. We’re all getting new ones every three years, so we never really own them.

And what happens to the cars we trade in? Those are valuable assets for BMW to sell again. Wouldn’t it just be easier if, as I suggested earlier, every BMW had heated seats? Maybe the car was originally sold in Florida and the owner didn’t want them. But after three years, the car gets sold to someone in Boston. In January. Suddenly, heated seats are a thing, man. The hardware is already there, and now BMW can turn them on for you.

This makes it easier for BMW to build a car, and doesn’t require you to purchase something you don’t need. Raise your hand if your car has a feature you never use.

Actually, if your BMW has Gesture Control, don’t raise it or you might activate something you didn’t intend to. I wish there was a way to recoup that money.

90% of all BMWs already have heated seats.

Mario Kart

This isn’t going to turn your BMW into King Coopa’s Kart, where everything is a subscription, and if you don’t pay up, poof. Tire deflated, Mario screaming in your ear.

Back-up cameras are required now by law. Your A/C will always work, har har. It’ll still be a BMW.

Where this will more likely show itself are on features like Remote Start, or the M Drift Mode – you know, fun things that might enhance ownership, but aren’t required.

The M-pire strikes back

I’m going to prove a point to you, Kim. For model year 2023, BMW has raised its prices on most, if not all, models.

Is this the first you’re hearing of it? I’ll bet you didn’t even notice. Or if you did it’s, “No big deal”. What’s a few hundred bucks, right? Everyone does it anyway.

Nope. An M3 will cost you $2,700 more in 2023. An M5? Ahem. $4,200! For this, you get absolutely nothing. No more standard equipment over a ’22 model.

Doesn’t end there either. Metallic paint is up $100. Wheels cost more too. BMW also saw fit to take away the leather on the doors unless you get the Extended package. What else is de-contented? Beats me, supply chain issues have become an excuse for everything now.

This, combined with dealers who may not work with you on price, means an identical M3 could cost you $10,000 more than it did just two years ago. No one called it out on social media. News outlets didn’t really pick it up.

Seems like the $18 heated seats upset us more than a $10k jump in price for no reason.

An M3 is going to cost you a lot more next year.

Monthly movement

This all comes back to that day at the dealer when you work out your deal. If you’re not savvy, the salesman might not even mention the final price of the car.

“Where do you want to be with payments?” they’ll ask. Please don’t answer them. That MPRP is what matters.

We’re all in an uproar over BMW subscriptions, all focused on those monthly numbers. They are the Trojan horse, distracting you from the real crime – a BMW costing more for no reason but greed.

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