Hackers seek to unlock BMW’s heated seat subscription
MUNICH: BMW has only just started offering an online subscription for seat heating and already hackers have announced plans to help owners unlock the feature, which only works when paid for through BMW’s software.
BMW is testing a paid subscription for heated seats and a heated steering wheel, one of many software features already built into cars from the factory but which only work under a paid subscription.
High Beam Assist, which automatically dims the headlights in oncoming traffic, is also available for monthly or annual payments. Another option is an artificial noise generator for electric vehicles.
Owners of BMW’s home market cars in Europe pay €17 (RM76) per month (US$18 in the US) to activate seat heating, while “lifetime” use costs €385 ( RM1,746).
But now coding firm Bimmer Tech says it wants to allow owners to activate subscription-based seat heating for new BMW models such as the BMW X1 and BMW 2 Series Active Tourer without a subscription.
The hackers’ goal is also to help users who buy a used car for which the previous owner purchased the feature. Companies like Bimmer Tech have been offering their services for years on various forums like Ebay and Etsy.
In-car subscription services have been around for a decade, but BMW’s recent move to charge customers for warm seats in winter has not been well received.
“We always listen to our customers and look for ways to deliver the features they want. As long as BMW allows heated seats to be activated, we can consider it,” said Paul Smith of Bimmer Tech. Vice magazine.
Experts said hacking BMW features could prove difficult.
To use them, the owner must log in to their BMW ID when starting the vehicle or unlock it with the correctly coded vehicle key.
Software subscriptions are a way for automakers to generate revenue in the lucrative aftermarket business, and premium brands Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Porsche all offer such features on demand. – dpa