BMW starts selling heated seat subscriptions for $18 a month

Software blocks, where the hardware for the feature is included but the software won’t allow it to be turned on unless more $$$ are paid, that’s fairly common in high tech gadgetry. There might be two printers by the same manufacturer, one for $100, one for $300, different model numbers, different outside plastics, but the insides identical. Software configuration code is the only thing that prevents the $300 features from being used.

Some marketing sense to that, can introduce the same printer into two markets, and not worry the $100 version will take away from the $300 sales.

There an important ethical question though: what if the feature that is turned off by the software code affects safety? If somebody gets injured, they may claim the safety feature was installed on the car, and manufacture caused the injury b/c they failed to turn the safety feature on.

Trying to think of a constitutional remedy, but if I were a Chinese company, I might reverse engineer the whole thing, pirate the software (they do both) and sell it all for $75 under the zing tu brand. Of course 10% would need to be set aside for protection.

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I doubt that would be allowed. The consumer has no choice whether to choose the required safety features or not. If it’s required, the consumer already paid for it. If the safety feature is not required, then the manufacturer could possibly charge extra. However, they often effectively do that by offering them most complete set of optional safety features on the highest trim levels.