Dacia is pulling no punches with a complementary offer to drivers in dig at luxury car firm BMW, which is charging customers monthly subscription fees to unlock features already installed in its new cars.
The budget-friendly brand – which currently sells the £12,995 Sandero, the cheapest model in Britain – is offering motorists who visit select Dacia dealers next week a free hot water bottle.
The jibe is aimed at German luxury car firm BMW, which last year caused uproar when it confirmed that customers would be charged £15-a-month to unlock the heated seats function installed in their expensive new motors.
A heated debate: Dacia is offering complimentary branded hot water bottles to drivers next week. It’s a snipe at luxury car makers for charging drivers monthly fees to use heated seats
Dacia’s jibe is aimed directly at BMW after we revealed in July that its customers must pay a monthly subscription to turn on features that are already installed in their expensive cars
Dacia, the Romanian marque now owned by the Renault Group, said the free branded hot water bottle offer is part of a bid to ‘highlight its opposition to the growing wider industry trend of charging consumers a subscription to access in-car features’.
It said: ‘Car manufacturer Dacia is coming to the rescue of chilly drivers everywhere in these cold months and giving away free hot water bottles, named “Heated Seat Saviours”.’
The jibe is aimed directly at BMW, which faced strong criticism from drivers and the wider consumer world in July when pricing for its ‘connected drive packages’ were revealed.
The free Dacia-branded hot water bottles are only available between 1 and 2 February from three dealerships – one in London, Manchester and Swansea
The Romanian marque said the free hot water bottle offer is part of a bid to ‘highlight its opposition to the growing wider industry trend of charging consumers a subscription to access in-car features’
Dacia’s new freebie offer is a sneer at BMW particularly, saying it would never ‘charge consumers for stuff their car has already been built with’
This included a monthly charge of £15 per month for heated seats and a £10 fee per month for the high-beam assist system that stops drivers dazzling oncoming traffic.
Dacia dealers giving away free hot water bottles in February
Dacia Staples Corner
North Circular Road,
*free hot water bottles are only available in these dealerships on 1-2 February 2023
Terms & Conditions apply. See: www.dacia.co.uk/hot-water-bottle
While the Bavarian car firm launched the service back in 2020, the addition of features many customers would expect to have for free in a premium-priced executive car raised plenty of eyebrows last summer.
The pay-as-you-go upgrades allow BMW to activate features that are built into all its latest models but have been switched off by the company to encourage customers to spend more.
It does this by accessing software in all of its latest models via their built in wi-fi and deletes a line of code in the computer system that had been blocking the feature from being accessed by the user.
Dacia’s new freebie offer is a sneer at such these systems that it says ‘charge consumers for stuff their car has already been built with’.
Luke Broad, Dacia brand director for the UK said: ‘Our “Heated Seat Saviours” are a bit of fun, but they do highlight the direction the wider industry is going regarding subscription-based access to features.
‘Asking someone to pay extra to activate factory-fitted equipment certainly isn’t Dacia!
‘We believe in simplicity, offering our customers technology that makes driving more convenient and comfortable with features included in a car’s initial price.
‘Whether consumers view heated seats as essential or not, our commitment to value and a fuss-free ownership experience means that we will only ever ask them to push a button to enjoy them.’
The free Dacia-branded hot water bottles are only available between 1 and 2 February from three dealerships – one in London, Manchester and Swansea.
Customers rage at BMW pay-as-you-go features
BMW came under heavy scrutiny when its heated seat subscription package was first brought to the attention of consumers in the summer, with drivers branding the move as ‘greedy’.
This came after more pay-as-you-go features – which are already installed in the vehicles – were revealed.
For instance, buyers of its expensive premium cars have the option to have heated front seats turned on permanently for £350, or alternatively have the feature for three years for £250, an annual subscription of £150 or monthly for £15.
This screengrab of BMW UK’s Connected Drive section of its website shows the different purchase and subscription options available to have heated front seats
BMWs running Operating System 7 are compatible with the updates system. It adds the feature via wi-fi by deleting lines of code in the computer system that blocks features already installed in the vehicle from being accessed
For the heated steering wheel function to be activated, it is £200 to be fully installed, £150 for three years, £100 for one year or £10 a month.
It’s the same pricing structure for BMW’s ‘high beam assistant’, which is a system that automatically dips full beam headlights when there’s another road user up ahead.
Owners can also add the ‘driving assistance plus’ package, which is a version of adaptive cruise control that automatically maintains a pre-set speed, keeps a certain distance from the vehicle ahead and can steer the car in its lane.
This is available for £750 on a permanent basis, £550 for three years, £350 for one year or £35 a month.
Want a heated steering wheel in your BMW for the winter only? You can get it for £10 a month
Drivers of the latest BMW cars now have heated front seats on a 3 year subscription for £250, an annual payment of £150 or monthly for £15. They can also pay £350 to have it permanently available
BMW first unveiled its plans to offer a subscription service for features in 2020, though it has only offered monthly fees for heated seats and a heated steering wheel from last summer
Responding to the news on Twitter, once user said: ‘BMW are seriously asking for monthly subscriptions for heated seats, heated steering wheels.
‘Components that already exist in your very expensive cars controlled by software #greedy Opportunistic.
‘What next? “We are sorry but your car not be driven on Sundays.”‘
Another Twitter user added: ‘Though I have no need for heated seats, I would consider looking at other brands.
‘If a company is so greedy to charge for something like that it makes me wonder about the overall quality of their vehicles.’
However, not everyone is completely against the concept of paying for features on demand during specific months.
One user tweeted: ‘Sounds mad but on thinking about it it could make sense.
‘If there is no extra initial cost to spec heated seats in the car then only paying for the winter months could make more sense.
‘You’d need to see the maths!’
And it’s not just BMW taking customers for a ride.
Porsche has a Functions On Demand (FOD) service for its electric Taycan range, which is priced from £75,500 to £143,400 before options.
Porsche is also charging Taycan customers subscription fees for some features. For instance, Active Lane Keeping is available for £18-a-month. Customers can also pay extra to have a dynamic headlight feature switched on, costing £32-a-month
To activate a 7GB-a-month data package allowing customers to surf the internet while connected to the car’s built-in w-ifi will cost owners £19 per month.
FOD features built into the car that can be unlocked via subscription includes Active Lane Keeping for £18-a-month and the brand’s ‘InnoDrive’ bundle of assistance features – including sign recognition, automatic speed control before making indicated turns and a sporty driving function – also for £18.
Customers can also pay extra to have a dynamic headlight feature switched on, costing £32-a-month.
There are also options to have these features installed on a permanent basis, while others have annual subscription plans.
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.