Home » Hyundai Seems To Be Considering Those Subscription-Based Features Nobody Ever Said They Want

Hyundai Seems To Be Considering Those Subscription-Based Features Nobody Ever Said They Want

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There was an article a couple of days ago in the UK-based Autocar that spoke with several high-ranking executives at Hyundai and their Hyundai Collected Mobility division. What these executives said were the sorts of things that sent chills down my spine – chills of irritation and dismay, because they were saying things like “For years we worried about how we were going to sell more cars. Today we worry about ‘what if all we do is sell cars?'” and talking about heated seat subscriptions and that sort of thing, but calling it “personalization in the car” instead of what most consumers call it, which is “bullshit.” Does anyone like subscribing to car features?

Here’s what Autocar reported Marcus Welz, head of Hyundai Connected Mobility, said:

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“We are looking at feature-on-demand as an option, in order to add more personalization in the car.”

“Feature on demand” is how marketing people refer to features your car was built with, and has the hardware already installed, hardware that you pay in either fuel or electricity costs to haul around with you wherever you go, but the people who built your car decided that you can’t access unless you pay – features like heated seats or connected services of some kind.

Hyundai also stated that the subscription service could be used to “bring new features into older cars,” which is an interesting concept, though it also brings up some questions. I realize that there could be purely software-based upgrades that could improve things on older cars: user-interface updates to the infotainment systems, perhaps, or new applications for the car that used the existing hardware, but there are, of course, limits.

Sure, it’s theoretically possible that new battery management software could improve battery range or even motor power via the motor controller or something – I’m not ruling that out – but to get real, substantive gains for the future, a carmaker might choose to write software that deliberately doesn’t maximize the potential of their hardware, and then they can roll out “upgrades” that release potential that was previously trapped. I’m not saying this is necessarily Hyundai’s plan, but it has to be noted that this is a very real possibility for any company with similar ideas.

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I understand the motivation from carmakers to do this sort of thing: they want a means to keep generating revenue from their customers after they already bought the car. The quote from Welz,

“For years we worried about how we were going to sell more cars. Today we worry about ‘what if all we do is sell cars?'”

… pretty much sums that up, but it also is a concept that I do not feel consumers want anything to do with. There’s rarely been concepts in the automotive world that seem to have engendered such universal disdain and disgust among car owners as having to subscribe to features already built into your car, at least in part because the flip side of that means there can be features in a car you own that the carmaker keeps you from using, and that is absolutely maddening.

Ponysubs

Nobody wants this. Carmakers want it because they want your money. But consumers want to keep their money, and it’s natural for them to feel resentment at carmakers for trying these sorts of persistent tactics to chisel more money from the customers who paid good money – and likely with a loan, are still paying good money – to drive the car. How much money do these car executives need, they may wonder? Would it kill them to enjoy a delicious can of dog food every now and then, like the fantastic Ol’ Roy Country Stew, complete with peas and carrots and mouth-watering cuts of what could possibly be beef? Heat it up, and who would even know you’re eating non-human-rated food? Are they really too good for that?

There’s also the issue of longevity; we’ve seen how cars with connectivity features that used older networks that have been “sunsetted” have fared, and it’s not great. Features that the car once had are now dead, and there’s nothing the average car owner can do about it. What’s the guarantee that this sort of thing won’t happen again to subscription-based features that require contacting a remote server to operate? There really is no guarantee.

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I reached out to Hyundai PR here in America to see if feature subscription plans were being considered here as well, but have yet to hear back so far. So, until I do, I’ll just speak from the heart and implore them to give this matter a lot of careful thought, and think about what their buyers actually want. If people are clamoring for features they have to pay for on demand, I’m sure as hell not hearing it, and based on how this concept has worked in the past, I don’t see this as being a hit.

If anything, I think Hyundai could do far better if they made a point of being a carmaker that refuses to have subscription services, and really pushes the idea that when you buy a Hyundai, you own that Hyundai, and that includes all the features your car is capable of, which you decided on when you bought the car. You’re not lugging around things you can’t use, you’re in no danger of losing functionality if your financial circumstances change, and, most importantly, your car is yours, not a loan from some faraway automaker that you have to deal with every time your ass is cold in the winter.

I don’t think anyone cares how this concept is spun or if it’s called on-demand-features or whatever. It feels wrong, and car buyers seem to hate it. So, Hyundai, please, think before you commit to this path. There’s still time.

 

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BagoBoiling
BagoBoiling
1 month ago

We have a 17’ Volvo V60 CC whose 3G modem was “sunsetted”. Took away the remote start and all other connectivity. Had to pay $1000 to upgrade to a 4G modem to be able to use my subscription. Woof.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  BagoBoiling

$1000 for a $25 part?!

BagoBoiling
BagoBoiling
1 month ago

Well you have to add in the $975 of labor of looking at it

Andrew Daisuke
Andrew Daisuke
1 month ago
Reply to  BagoBoiling

damn, a 17 foot Volvo. impressive!

BagoBoiling
BagoBoiling
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Daisuke

They are normally 15.5 feet but I’ve slowing been stretching this one

GumpertApolloGuy
GumpertApolloGuy
1 month ago

I used to have a Veloster N and I absolutely loved that car. Why can’t Hyundai keep it simple and easy? Fun, exciting, and a great daily. Nobody needs/wants all this extra shit and I hope nobody pays extra for this.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
1 month ago

What is the/is there text in that yellow graphic with the satellite?

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 month ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

“There, now you have 900hp and fully reclining seats”. Yeah, I guess that might be hard to read depending on monitor settings, colorblindness, etc.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
1 month ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Thanks mate. I’m working on badgering MH into some colorblindness accessibility stuff, but it still wouldn’t catch inside an image like that.

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
1 month ago

“For years we worried about how we were going to sell more cars. Today we worry about ‘what if all we do is sell cars?’”

Then sell something else. Can’t we have one thing, ONE THING that isn’t a subscription, please? I really don’t want my car manufacturer grabbing me by my ankles, holding me upside down and shaking me until all the money in my pockets falls out.

Be different. Be the manufacturer brave enough to not sell a subscription.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
1 month ago

And if all manufacturers decide to do subscriptions, that means there are too few competitors in the market and the government should bring anti-trust actions to bear on the industry until there is enough competition to let market forces work in the consumer’s favor.

Yes, automakers, this is a threat, and I’m not even veiling it.

Gee See
Gee See
1 month ago

Interesting to note that the BMW heated subscription saga started in South Korea
https://www.autoblog.com/2022/07/11/bmw-subscription-services-south-korea/

Rod Millington
Rod Millington
1 month ago

I don’t mind paying a subscription fee for connectivity like your car maintaining its own 5G connection (though I would never subscribe to that “feature”. They should also be able to make microtransaction style money from selling skins for the gauge cluster and other screens. Effectively video game analogous cosmetics but for a car.

Want a different startup animation for the exterior lights? That’s $10 please etc.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 month ago

Do this and Hyundai will be signing up for a butt kicking.

The NSX Was Only in Development for 4 Years
The NSX Was Only in Development for 4 Years
1 month ago

>go to my local Hyundai dealer – just want a cheap daily
>the dealership owner is locked in a cage on the roof of the building for a sales event and isn’t allowed to come down unless they sell 500 cars that week
>building smells like cigarettes mixed with cologne
>a man named Chad tries to sell me a Palisade that they marked up by $15k
>i’m forced to go bang the sales gong when I finally sign the paperwork for an 84 month loan at 21.8% interest for a base Kona
>walk through a salesman’s bubble gum vape cloud on my way out the door
>finally get in my Kona and am notified that I need to pay $5.99 a month to activate the keyless ignition
>i’m carjacked on the way home by a group of teenagers who will post the whole thing on TikTok

Last edited 1 month ago by The NSX Was Only in Development for 4 Years
GumpertApolloGuy
GumpertApolloGuy
1 month ago

My Veloster N was my favorite car Ive ever owned, and I regret selling it. Im also a huge fan of the Ioniq 5N and I love their vision for fun sports cars. Just a shame the rest of the Hyundai experience sucks.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 month ago

Love my Kona N. I’ll have had it for two years in June. It’s the best car I’ve ever owned and one of the most fun and engaging cars I’ve ever driven. It’s been completely problem free, the interior has held up well, my wife loves it, and it has enough space to do pretty much anything with.

…and I still don’t think I’d buy another Hyundai. I don’t even think I’d recommend one outside of the EVs. The dealerships are somehow even worse than their reputation. My service experience has been incredibly mid. Teenagers are constantly eyeing my car up wondering if they can steal it with a USB cable.

Every couple weeks the company makes headlines for the latest horrifying way they’ve shot themselves in the dick again. No one takes them seriously. Even the nicer ones (like mine) are still shitboxes in the mind of 99% of people. The depreciation gives Maserati a run for their money.

It sucks! They make some truly great and interesting cars in a time when there aren’t a whole lot out there. But unfortunately it’s not enough. They’re so tantalizingly close to figuring it out but they just can’t (or won’t) hammer out the fine details.

Younork
Younork
1 month ago

why does the dealership experience matter? Presumably you are going there once or twice to fight with some salesman and then never again. I’ve never really had a problem at bad dealership just walking to the door when the salesman/sales manager get pushy, they either get serious or don’t, at which point I just leave. Yes the dealers suck, but when you go there the one time to actually buy the car, does it really ruin the whole ownership experience? All your other points are spot on, especially that last part about how they’re so close to getting it, but just won’t.

The NSX Was Only in Development for 4 Years
The NSX Was Only in Development for 4 Years
1 month ago
Reply to  Younork

The dealership experience can potentially ruin the ownership experience if you get fast-talked into taking out some lengthy loan with an absurd interest rate. Hyundai dealers are run like shady used car lots, which is just the biggest shame. You’ve got these genuinely world-class cars sitting there but the sales tactics being used are the same ones you’d see at Insane Al’s Car Shack in 1977.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
1 month ago
Reply to  Younork

I live in a small town so if I am visiting a dealership, it’s usually a 90-120 minute round trip. It absolutely pisses me off to make that trip worthless because the salesperson was trying to dick me around.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
1 month ago

Sounds about right. Had warranty work done on my Hyundai last year, they failed to pay Hertz and I just got hit with a $2800 credit card charge.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 month ago

The company that was just caught selling driving data to insurance companies wants to fuck around with subscription based features? I am shocked, I tell you. Shocked.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
1 month ago

Almost every car company is doing that now. Thankfully there’s a law against it in California.

NebraskaStig
NebraskaStig
1 month ago

My number one concern with any of this is something being added to the car I don’t subscribe for, and that unused feature breaks and bricks the car in some way or another. This screams class-action lawsuit

Rob Schneider
Rob Schneider
1 month ago

I can’t wait for right-to-repair to come face to face with the subscription model. “Your Honor, the vehicle came with heaters in the seats – I just fixed the issue with them not coming on.”

Let the courtroom fireworks begin.

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
1 month ago

Will there be a subscription feature that fixes Hyundais and Kias so they aren’t so easy to steal?

Rob Schneider
Rob Schneider
1 month ago

Yes. Lease something other than a Hyundai or a Kia.

Nic Periton
Nic Periton
1 month ago

I really like the lead image. although why anybody would pay for a glove box randomizer escapes me.I found a single glove in my glove box yesterday.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
1 month ago
Reply to  Nic Periton

Hey if its truly random, you might find a gold bar in there one day! Or at least a free can of your preferred beverage.

But I too enjoyed the lead image, reading all Jason’s ridiculous subscription options. I’m not sure I would want to pay extra for a pre moistened seat.

Last edited 1 month ago by Lockleaf
Gee See
Gee See
1 month ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

I think you need to subscribe to “Glove box as a loot box” option for that

SLM
SLM
1 month ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

Just hope that when the cop ask for your papers, there won’t be a pound of coke in your glove box…
The gold bar probably won’t be well percieved either.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

Jason’s easter eggs are precious. I bet the binary string beamed down from the satellite spells something cute, but I can’t be arsed to type it into a base converter.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Jonathan Hendry
Jonathan Hendry
1 month ago

Would it kill them to enjoy a delicious can of dog food every now and then, like the fantastic Ol’ Roy Country Stew, complete with peas and carrots and mouth-watering cuts of what could possibly be beef? Heat it up, and who would even know you’re eating non-human-rated food? Are they really too good for that?”

Just put it in a pie crust. Yum! Dog food pot pie!

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
1 month ago

Indecent proposal.
A decent proposal would be for consumer rights to be honored, and all manufacturers must make a no-cost op-out disconnect from all spying software.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
1 month ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

I’m with you except I’d prefer we have to opt IN to spying software. And not in a “click to agree if you want to drive your car to work today” kind of way.

TopFuel1771
TopFuel1771
1 month ago

One thing I really don’t think automakers have considered is what this will do to resale (and hence, residual) values. By doing this, they are essentially making every car a base model, because as soon as the original owner sells it, all those fancy features go away. Care to take a guess how car dealers and wholesalers are going to value them? Hyundai especially doesn’t need to be adding even more depreciation to their vehicles.

SooperDooperPooperScooter
SooperDooperPooperScooter
1 month ago
Reply to  TopFuel1771

Oh no, that’s perfect. If you want a non-base shitbox, you need to buy a brand spanking new shitbox. The cost conscious used car customers will eventually be driven crazy by not being able to use basic features like their sunroofs or alarm systems, and will have to add a subscription onto their upside down buy here pay here loan. Everyone (Kia) wins!

TheDrunkenWrench
TheDrunkenWrench
1 month ago

I can understand cost to operate, and legitimately connected features have the argument for subscriptions.

My 2018 F150 had the ability to start from my cell phone. While Ford gave that service for free, I’d have gladly tossed them $5/mo. For the convenience of not getting in to an ice cold truck after trekking a kilometer on foot to my work’s parking lot.

Now if those heated seats were locked behind the same pay wall, I’d drive the truck back in to the showroom through the plate glass.

V10omous
V10omous
1 month ago

Heated seats might be the only thing I’d consider paying for as a subscription.

After all, I only need them 4-5 months of the year.

If the choice is a $500 option or $9.99 a month, it’s at least worth doing the math on.

TheDrunkenWrench
TheDrunkenWrench
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

If the feature requires no input or upkeep from the manufacturer after delivery, then they can pound sand. Connected services cost money to deliver, so I can get on board with those.

James Carson
James Carson
1 month ago

I refuse to purchase any car that requires a subscription to utilize a installed feature. For the money I’ll revert to a 60’s or 70’s car and put the price difference into restoring it.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 month ago
Reply to  James Carson

This. I will buy back my 300TD and cruise into the sunset if my other options include subscriptions

Sklooner
Sklooner
1 month ago

Sorry I’m late for work, the subscription on my car ran out and I had to add a new credit card and I only had 34hp to get here

Canyonsvo
Canyonsvo
1 month ago

The car makers are simply following the software companies. Software as a service. You used to buy MS Office on floppy diskettes, yes, I’m old, and then later on a cd rom and installed it, ran it and used it. When you wanted to upgrade it, you’d buy the new version and install it and go. Rinse and repeat for a long time.

Now…. annual subscription fee to run it. I don’t know if the ~$90/year I pay to run Office is a better deal than the old way. What I do know is that if I stop paying the annual fee, Excel doesn’t stop working. I might not get the latest “tweaks”, but who cares?

What’s next? Oh, you want to use 5th gear? That will be $9.99/month. Fuck these people. If you install it in the car, it should work without a subscription. A fee for the heated seats to work? Eat a bowl of dicks.

If I don’t want to pay for On-Star or XM Radio that’s one thing. But for my seats to work? Die milkfaces!

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
1 month ago
Reply to  Canyonsvo

SaaS was my immediate thought. Live service gaming is much the same way as well and I’m not a fan of lots of what they do there either.

Cerberus
Cerberus
1 month ago
Reply to  Canyonsvo

Went to free software because of this out of principal alone. It’s less user friendly and lacks some features, but I make it work just fine. Fuck you, Adobe. I don’t do subscription for non-consumables. I can easily live on a lot less junk they want to charge subscriptions for.

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 month ago
Reply to  Canyonsvo

I’m surprised people use Office 365 when you can still buy Office 2021 Professional for $40 from SoftKeyWorld. One-time purchase; easy conversation with Microsoft tech support to reactivate if you need to wipe your computer and install it again (or on a different one); still supported and updated til 2026.
Even new and directly from Microsoft, 1-2 years of 365 will cost more than the 2021 license, and all you lose is the primarily online components.

Dead Elvis, Inc.
Dead Elvis, Inc.
1 month ago
Reply to  VanGuy

LibreOffice is free fitty, and seems to play nice with much of Microsoft’s corresponding software.

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 month ago

Eh, I think there’s something to be said for “muscle memory”. Even if I can find most of the equivalent functions in Google Docs (for example), Word is still laid out better (and doesn’t lose the top portion of the screen to a URL bar, but I digress).

But I will be keeping that sort of thing in mind late October 2025 when I have to replace Windows 10 with Linux on my laptop.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 month ago

“Seems to” does a lot of work here. LO is utter trash and only usable if you don’t exchange files with others.

Dead Elvis, Inc.
Dead Elvis, Inc.
1 month ago

Having used it in place of MS Office for the last 7-8 years, there have been zero complaints from anyone I share files with, so I don’t know what to tell you.

Space
Space
1 month ago
Reply to  Canyonsvo

Those disc’s rock! I have a set of ms office 2007 discs that work forever I will keep using until I die.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
1 month ago

Lovely late-stage capitalism rent-seeking.

I get that some features do need a subscription to keep them up. Like a music subscription or streaming. The artists need to eat and those servers aren’t free. But for hardware that comes in the car, heck no!

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
1 month ago

Good point. Been addicted to Sirius since 04. And thank God for it.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 month ago

Agreed. I do support artists I like. Switching already installed hardware is completely different

Space
Space
1 month ago

Late stage? No this is mid stage, just give it another 50-100 years.

Jason pollock
Jason pollock
1 month ago

I would never buy a car that has subscription features.

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
1 month ago

Don’t knock Ol Roy Country Stew until you have tried it! It is so much better than Dinty Moore.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
1 month ago

I don’t mind paying a subscription for connectivity features that require work on the automakers’ end – things that require servers or people to do work. But not things like seat heating and such, that are just items that they want extra cash for even though I’ve already paid for them.

Slow In Slow Out
Slow In Slow Out
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

Exactly. If they cost is to support continual development of the software interface we have in modern cars, I’m ok with that. That takes continual development, refinement, and bug fixing. But don’t ever charge me rent to “unlock” features that shipped in the car.

Drew
Drew
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

Exactly.

Remote functions through an app or web interface? Sure, makes sense.
Remote start through a key fob? No, that doesn’t require server uptime or updates.

Satellite radio? Of course.
Satellite nav? Sure.
Android Auto/Apple Carplay? Nope, my phone is running it and just needs to connect.

Any hardware feature? HELL NO. Not only is it ridiculous on its face, but it can lead to issues like being locked out of features you should have because the car can’t verify the subscription with the server.

I wouldn’t even mind features being turned off in base models to reduce manufacturing complexity, so long as any purchase that turns them on involves going to a dealer, getting the feature turned on, and never needing to pay for or think about it again. Some sort of physical activation so that your car’s next software update doesn’t take it away.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
1 month ago
Reply to  Drew

The dash cam in my Mercedes GLS 580 was installed but not operational without a $200 payment. However, it was a one-time payment, and the same amount I paid for my wagon to add it at build time. Since all that camera gear is there for other features no matter what, I would have had it even if I hadn’t paid for the dash cam ability. I was able to turn it on via their app so no trip back to the dealer.

Drew
Drew
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

The problem I have with turning something on via an app is that it seems like there is increased risk of losing that thing due to a software update or a server glitch. That said, a dash cam might make sense that way, if it’s uploading the video to some cloud server. And there could certainly be benefits to that, such as theft or damage to a memory card.

But I stand by my assessment that virtually any feature you’re turning on with one purchase should be turned on physically and permanently. Turning it on via software risks loss via updates, comm loss, or a factory reset.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
1 month ago
Reply to  Drew

In this case, it was just to activate the dash cam (a one-time thing). The video goes to a USB stick in the car. But you do make a good point.

DONALD FOLEY
DONALD FOLEY
1 month ago

Amen.

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