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BMW has been criticised for putting some of its cars’ hardware features behind a paywall – meaning drivers will have to pay more to turn on heated seats, for instance.

Customers have criticised the company as “greedy and exploitative”, according to technology news site The Verge, with many of these features already available as standard in most modern vehicles.

Drivers are particularly aggrieved because the hardware for the features advertised on BMW’s ConnectedDrive store – including heated seats and adaptive suspension – must already be installed in the vehicles during production to be turned on.

For drivers in the UK, using the installed system to heat a front seat costs £15 a month, or – at a discount for longer subscriptions – £150 for a year, £250 for three years or £350 for perpetuity.

BMW did not respond to Sky News to explain why these costs are necessary if the features were already included at the point of production.

BMW offers several additional features on a subscription basis
Image: BMW offers access to installed hardware features on a subscription basis

The paywall for ConnectedDrive features is only in place for certain countries such as the UK, South Africa, South Korea, New Zealand and Germany.

It is not running in the US and the company says it does not plan to introduce the features for American drivers.

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A spokesperson for BMW told Sky News: “Where heated seats, or any feature available in the ConnectedDrive store have been purchased when a customer vehicle is ordered, no subsequent subscription or payment is necessary.

“The ConnectedDrive Store offers customers the opportunity to add selected features, which they did not order when the vehicle was built, at a later date.

“This can be helpful for new customers should their circumstances change after their purchase. For secondary owners, this functionality is particularly useful, as they now have the opportunity to add features the original owner did not choose.

“Customers can enable all hardware features for a one-time payment or if preferable, choose an annual or monthly subscription, depending on the feature.

“This enables drivers to experiment with a feature by purchasing a short-term trial before committing to a purchase.”