Mercedes-Benz has put a paywall on EV performance, requiring extra costs to unlock the full potential of its all-electric sports cars. You can imagine that won’t go down well with environmentalists urging automakers to give the push to switch to all EVs all they have in time to mitigate climate change, and it won’t impress car enthusiasts much either .
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What a paywall on EV performance looks like
For an extra $1,200 a year, Mercedes offers an “Acceleration Increase” subscription that boosts the performance of its EQE and EQS in their standard sedan and SUV variants. This fee improves zero to 60 mph acceleration times by 0.8 to one second due to a higher peak motor output and increased torque.
Related: Mercedes-Benz’s new VISION EQXX is a classy electric vehicle
It’s bad enough that an automaker would limit the potential of EVs after decades of EVs being looked down upon for their lack of power delivery. Now not only do you have to pay more for full capabilities, but you have to pay a subscription.
Why Automakers Add Performance Paywalls
Mercedes isn’t the first automaker to pull this stunt. Tesla has already done this. Mercedes says it’s a software change, but basically it means you’re paying extra for performance your car could already handle.
For some inexplicable reason, BMW has put an $18 per month surcharge on heated seats. This makes us question whether automakers understand the urgency of their own bottom line to switch to EVs and make them as affordable as possible. Like BMWs, Mercedes are already expensive, and why would anyone buy an EQS 450 with acceleration subscription added when an EQS 580 is already faster and has more extras?
Color us confused. We imagine this is partly a move to support people who believe there is more cachet in higher prices because it puts them in an exclusive club. A need on the part of the automakers to improve their bottom line while EV adoption is in transition, as these cars are expensive to develop and not yet very profitable to sell, regardless of sticker price.
Why put a paywall on EV performance?
Tesla already charges more for advanced driver assistance technology. Model S buyers had to pay extra to unlock extra battery capacity for entry-level EVs, which also looks pretty sketchy. It’s not just cars, either: motorcycle maker Zero is charging $1,800 to boost the power of the 2022 SR bike. But this is an upfront cost. Want to keep paying for the life of your vehicle to unlock an extra one second reduction in acceleration time? Or maybe you just want a better car?
Mercedes already feels a bit floaty and boosted on acceleration, partly from poorer acceleration times than some similar BMW EV sports car models, and partly because their cars are insulated from outside sound to the point that you won’t notice anyway it doesn’t go faster. Even with this boost, it still might not feel enough to call performance sporty.
It’s really about revenue models for EVs, and that’s where the only real justification for this pricing model comes into play. Automakers need to make a profit from EVs to stay in business, and there’s currently a shift pushing toward subscription models for many layers of the auto industry. Think satellite radio, but for your EV technology.
How you can bypass an EV paywall
Best option: buy a better car. Find horsepower and torque equivalent to what you want from an ICE gas powered car. Then check how long the range is to make sure sporty performance won’t eat up your battery range. And finally, check how many other features come with the car. Compare models minus any performance enhancement packages to see which is the best deal, unless there is a significant performance or price difference with an add-on package like this.
And then seriously consider the long-term cost of a subscription versus the one-time payout for a better technology setup. There is nothing wrong with paying for an upgraded battery pack or motor if the cost is part of the up front vehicle price as you get an upgraded vehicle.
If you find a car you really love and it needs that extra boost to make it fit your needs, so be it, but remember we’re not talking about a one-off expense, and the paywall is artificially imposed. It’s a subscription that you keep paying for the life of the car. It is in vehicle service and subscription models that car manufacturers or dealers make their money. Whether it offers you extra value to match is something you’ll have to do an annoying amount of math to figure out.
But if you want a sporty EV, we suggest you shop around. This strategy is not going to endear anyone at Mercedes, at least outside of the brand-loyal set who feel there is value in paying more just to belong to the Mercedes brand.
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